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Hartselle junior competes on American Idol

By Emilee Boster

For the Enquirer

 

Hartselle High School junior Kari Erickson sang through Zoom call after Zoom call, from breakout room to breakout room. Then, there was nothing: no information for weeks. She waited patiently, hoping to get good news. Finally, she received an email: Her flight was booked for the San Francisco auditions of American Idol.

Erickson boarded the flight weeks later, practiced her performance, and then waited for four days before it was her time to audition. She spoke to Ryan Seacrest before entering the judges’ room and then walked in – prepared by her years of singing lessons, acting performances and dance competitions – to sing for the celebrity judges.

When Erickson was younger, she ran around her house singing Katy Perry’s songs. She once cried because all of her friends went to Perry’s concert while she had to stay at home imagining her friends singing along to the pop star’s songs.

As a contestant on American Idol, however, Erickson has stood in front of Perry, along with Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, auditioning for a spot in the coveted Hollywood week.

Idol producers marketed on her being a triple threat—a dancer, singer and actor. She spent one day being filmed around San Francisco while dancing in a tutu.

Erickson, the daughter of a dance studio owner, started dancing at the age of 2. She said she has always loved being on stage, and dancing was just another way to be there. Now, 15 years later, dancing has become muscle memory for her; it is something she can always rely on.

Erickson competes in dance competitions every other weekend and practices throughout the week. To be a great dancer, though, she had to tap into her emotional side, so she started acting.

She has played many different roles since that time. In the second grade, Erickson played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz.” At that point in her life, that was a big performance.

In 2018 she reprised the role at the Princess Theatre in Decatur – her favorite show so far.

She plans to pursue acting in addition to singing.

This spring she will be playing Lily in the HHS production of “Annie.”

One of Erickson’s ultimate goals is to perform on Broadway. Another is to be a Disney Princess.

Growing up in Hartselle, Erickson said she often has different dreams and hobbies than her peers. She also sacrifices a lot of her free time practicing and preparing for her future.

At Idol, though, she has found people with her same passions, which she said has not only motivated her but also given her great friendships.

Idol has also pushed her closer to her goals.

Erickson’s mindset is geared toward success; whether she is cut or wins, she said it is not about winning but what you do after the show that counts the most, citing the successes of Tori Kelly and Jennifer Hudson.

“There’s a pressure of never stopping because if I do, I’ll be behind,” she said, “and then there’s a fear of not having any time.” This is the motivation that drives her to keep working to obtain her dreams.

To follow Erickson’s journey, watch American Idol every Sunday at 7 p.m.

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