Charlotte, N.C. — Approximately 6,000 aspiring singers from across North Carolina and the country flocked to Charlotte to try out for season 12 of the reality show competition "American Idol."
Freshly minted high school graduate, Ramon Bullock, 17, of Warrenton, hoped to make a big name for himself.
"My plan is to go to Elizabeth City to study sociology – unless I make it big on 'American Idol,'" Bullock said.
Host Ryan Seacrest said that expectations were high for the auditions in North Carolina, given the success of the state's residents on the show.
Country crooner and Garner native Scotty McCreery, who won season 10, encouraged the contestants who lined up outside Time Warner Cable Arena in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, long before the actual auditions began.
"At the end of the day, they're artists out here, and they're going to sing their hearts out," McCreery said. "All of the North Carolina 'Idols,' we're rooting for them."
Ashlyn Vogelsang, of Sanford, said McCreery's success encouraged her to try out.
"That makes me feel like it's really possible to get on the show," Vogelsang said. "I'm here for the experience and to test my confidence and see how good I really am, because that's always been a mystery to me."
Brittnye Collier, of Roanoke Rapids, found the confidence to try out again after a brief and unsuccessful audition singing "At Last" by Etta James two years ago.
"I got the first two words out, and they told me to stop because they'd heard it too many times. After that, I just went blank," Collier said. This year, she planned to sing the lesser-known "Burn" by Ray LaMontagne.
Charlotte is the third stop in the seven-city "Idol" audition tour. Contestants first try out before the show's producers and, if they're good enough or amusingly bad enough, get a slot in front of celebrity judges. The best get sent on to Hollywood, where they'll compete to make it onto the live show, which airs on WRAZ Fox 50.
The show is set up to find undiscovered talent in ordinary people, said "Idol" senior producer Patrick Lynn.
"People's misconception is that, honestly, they don't they can try out or they can be a part of it," Lynnn said. "That's not true. This is anybody's game."