| Carondelet junior vies as
contestant on American Idol
Like the thousands of singers who turned up to audition for a spot on the "American Idol" TV show in Long Beach earlier this year Briana Oakley was there to do what she does best.
She can sing!
She easily won over the "American Idol" judges with her rendition of the Patti Griffin folk song, "Up to the Mountain." Veteran judge Randy Jackson told Oakley, a junior at Carondelet High School in Concord that she had "natural talent." Pop star Mariah Carey praised the singer's vocal abilities, country singer Keith Urban concurred with "That was fantastic," while singer Nicki Minaj's first words were "Wow, wow, wow."
As she listened to the judges, the curly haired 16-year-old, who attends Mass at Most Holy Rosary Church in Antioch, stood smiling, looking both amazed and excited yet in control.
The tape of her performance, posted on YouTube, has more than 40,000 hits. And her fan page on Facebook is filled with support and encouragement from her many admirers who watched her on the top-rated television show.
Oakley said her experience on "American Idol" didn't feel like a competition because of all the support she received from the show's staff and other contestants. She found the experience and the opportunity to become a star like Kelly Clarkson who won in the first season of "American Idol" to be humbling.
This wasn't Oakley's first appearance on television. In 2009 she was on Maury Povich's show called "Maury's Most Talented Kids" where she also received much applause from the audience. Unfortunately the response from classmates at another school was largely negative. In a segment with AI host Ryan Seacrest, she recalled being picked on and bullied. Oakley said that she ate lunch in the school bathroom because she feared for her safety.
Taken out of that school, Oakley's family moved to Antioch. "I love my school. It is a great school," she said of Carondelet High, where she sings in the Carondelet chorale and the concert choir.
Because she signed a contestant contract Oakley, who appeared on the show's Hollywood Week, could not reveal all that much about her experience on "American Idol." It is no secret, however, that she got as high as the top 47 before she was knocked off.
Although her dream of becoming an "American Idol" crashed, the talented teen is determined to follow her heart to sing professionally. "Singing is what I do," she said. "I owe it to myself, my mom and other people who supported me to not give up."
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