Local News

Supporters cheer for Chapel Hill resident on 'American Idol'

Posted February 10, 2009 11:03 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Chapel Hill resident Anoop Desai hopes to make it big on "American Idol." He has made it to Hollywood after impressing the judges in Kansas City, Mo.  Friends, family and fans gathered Tuesday night at the Siena Hotel, 1505 E Franklin St., in Chapel Hill, to watch his first televised performance before the “American Idol” judges.

"He has the potential to be a superstar,” friend Pablo Vega said.

Vega has known Desai, 22, since their high school days. Both men were also in the all-male capella group, the Clef Hangers, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Whenever he came on stage, without a beat, the crowd would go crazy. All the girls would start screaming,” Vega said.

Friends say they encouraged Desai to audition for the Fox TV show. But he agreed only after getting his American Studies degree from UNC last year.

Judge Simon Cowell has called his appearance dorky; however, Desai's voice has carried him through the competition so far.

"He is handling it very well. He is more focused than perhaps I have seen him before,” friend Duncan McFadyen. "I think he could be a real contender to win it, absolutely."

But the biggest fan at the gathering was his mother.

“I am very excited. He has always had a great deal of talent. He has sung since he was in elementary school. When he auditioned for American Idol, we were both apprehensive and excited,” Nalini Desai said.

Desai was chosen Tuesday to advance to the next round of the competition.