Lauren Ogburn has been perfecting her autograph since she was 15. She’ll be able to put it to use soon though — because she’s going to Hollywood.
Ogburn, 19, from Lake City, auditioned for season 13 of “American Idol” on July 26, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga., and got the go-ahead nod from the judges. Her audition aired Jan. 23 on FOX.
The network will air the show’s Hollywood round, where people will be able to see how Ogburn did, starting Wednesday.
For as long as Ogburn can remember, she has been singing. She started to perform on stage when she was about 15.
“I would go to local events in Lake City and sing on stage. That’s really where I got my feel for performing in front of an audience,” she said.
At 17, Ogburn taught herself how to play guitar, on one three generations old.
“It’s funny because I actually have a baby picture with that guitar,” Ogburn added.
After graduating high school in 2012, she enlisted in the Army. She went off to boot camp last July, but was honorably discharged.
That is when her mom, Lisa Ogburn, told her about the “American Idol” auditions in Atlanta.
“I was very supportive,” Lisa Ogburn said. “Actually, I saw it somewhere and I told her ‘American Idol’ was coming to Atlanta, and she said, ‘OK, I’m going.’”
But Ogburn was not always sure she wanted to audition for Idol. Before this opportunity, she didn’t think she had a chance of getting that golden ticket to Hollywood and thought it was cliche.
“I did it and it paid off,” she said. “I guess it wasn’t too cliche after all.”
The Road to Hollywood
Ogburn drove five hours to Atlanta from her hometown on July 24 and waited for audition registrations to open. The aspiring country singer got in line for registration right at midnight and stuck it out for 12 hours. She finished up at the registration site around noon the next day and went back to her hotel.
Her mom, dad, two sisters and best friend, Mary Hudson, of six years joined her in Atlanta for her big audition.
There was a lot of waiting and preliminary auditions to see if she would even make it into the judges’ audition room.
Since Ogburn was one of the first few people to register, her audition was earlier in the day.
They had a lot of filming to do before so that took up a lot of time, Ogburn said.
She even got a chance to talk with Ryan Seacrest, the host of the show.
“My little sister told me that she wanted to touch my hand because I had touched Ryan Seacrest’s hand,” she chuckled. “She’s 9, so she’s into that celebrity craze.”
Ten minutes before her audition, Ogburn and her best friend, Hudson, ran to the restroom.
“She went through the song she had chosen in the bathroom with me,” Hudson, 19, said. “It was pretty cool to be with her before she went in.”
When it was Ogburn’s turn, she was taken into a chamber to wait. A group of four contestants had gone in to audition before her so she had to wait while they sang individually.
“Her wait time was extremely long and that added to the anxiety,” her mom said.
Ogburn’s audition is now a bit of a blur to her. Between the nerves and excitement, she forgets the details of it and her time in front of the judges is sort of a haze.
She sang Reba McEntire’s “Fancy,” and received “yeses” from all three judges: Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban.
As a country singer, Urban’s feedback for Ogburn was a confidence boost and confirmed she could be a country singer. He said she was really authentic, which made her happy.
When she emerged from the audition room to meet her family, golden ticket tucked in her back pocket, she was crying.
For a split second her family thought she didn’t make it through. But she was shedding tears of joy.
Ogburn went to Hollywood on Dec. 14 to film. While she can’t say how she did before the show airs, she can comment on her experience.
She said you realize just how many talented people there are, and that even if you get cut, you can’t let it bring you down.
Her advice to anyone considering auditioning for Idol, or any other show, is to know who you are and what you want. She said it’s important to be yourself and know what you are working for.
The show gave Ogburn the push she needed to go out and start calling local businesses to see if she could perform.
“I’m more passionate about going out and performing. I’m calling them and going, ‘Hey do you want me to come sing? Can I open up for someone?’” she said.
The aspiring singer has a great support system throughout the area and is very grateful for that. But she still sees herself as a normal person and doesn’t think she’s ready for the adoration she’s already receiving.
When it comes down to her autograph though, she’s sticking with her initials, she said.
“People don’t sign their whole name when they’re famous.”