Local idol comes home
He may not be America's idol, but Boone vocal sensation Mike Brooks proves not even Jennifer Lopez or Steven Tyler can bring him down.
The past year has been a whirlwind for Brooks who, after three auditions, got to meet the infamous celebrity judges on Fox's acclaimed reality series, "American Idol."
"It started back in the summer," Brooks said. "My wife, Allison, and I had just gotten back from our honeymoon, and she found out she was being laid off her job."
What better time to shoot for your dreams?
"We found out the auditions were going to be in Nashville, and we decided to take off that way," he said.
After telling producers his background, how his father was in a bluegrass band and his mom sang choral music in church, how he was in an a cappella group at ASU that helped further his talent, he belted out his song by Michael Buble. He made the cut.
"After 17,000 people were cut down to 350, I started to buy into it," he said.
The celebrity audition was on a Monday, a day he'll never forget. It was the first time he met host Ryan Seacrest.
"He seemed like a diva ... but the more I got to know him over the next couple of months, he's definitely a really cool person, and he's really good at settling nerves," Brooks said. "He said, 'Before you go in, just hit your marks, look at the camera and do your little cheese smile. Then come up and just belt it out and see what happens.'"
It's hard advice to follow when you're in front of Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler.
"Where I was standing on the stage was only about 10 feet away from their table," he said. "It's a lot closer than it appears on TV."
And to say he was star struck is an understatement.
"They didn't even seem real," he said. "I mean, Jennifer looked like a porcelain doll. She didn't even look like a real human being. She had a billion eyelashes, and her eyes looked huge."
And as for meeting his "childhood idol," Steven Tyler?
"Wow," he said.
And as he started to sing his Maroon 5 selection, Jackson made a statement that upped his nerves.
"He said, 'A lot of people have sung this song this year. It's a really popular song,'" Brooks said.
Once he got through the first verse, he saw Tyler start to smile and knew he had won over his idol and Lopez.
"Randy was a little iffy," he said. "I still feel like they were working out the kinks on who was going to be the quote on quote Simon Cowell this year."
With two votes (Lopez and Tyler), it didn't matter what Jackson thought. Brooks was going to Hollywood.
"I was like, OK, and then it hit me ... I was just overwhelmed," he said. "They hand you a golden ticket, and you start to walk off stage. I was just trying to figure out how I was going to come out the door ... I nearly broke it down."
He continued with "American Idol," to be cut just before the group competition in Hollywood.
"I really felt like ... had I made it to groups, with me being accustomed to singing in a cappella groups, I felt like I would have flourished," he said.
But no regrets.
"Getting to make it to the top 250 out of 125,000 people was enough for me to say, 'Maybe music is my calling,'" said Brooks, an Appalachian State University graduate. "Maybe working at an auto parts store ain't it."