VCU student’s American Idol dreams end in Kansas City

Maya Earls
Spectrum Editor

Joi Hamm, junior at VCU, was the first person from Richmond selected to the next round of American Idol. Photo provided by Joi Hamm.

After dedicating several hours to auditions, one VCU student made it to the second round of American Idol and sang her heart out in front of celebrity judges. Due to her nerves taking over, the judges told Joi Hamm her Idol run would end in Kansas City, Missouri.

Hamm, a junior psychology major at VCU and a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist in the U.S. Army, has been passionate about music since she was a young girl. 

Always interested in auditioning, Hamm has followed the ups and downs of “American Idol” since the first season. She said she has always put education first in her life, but this year she felt the need to pursue her true dream.

“Now that I’ve done college, I thought this would be a good time for me to chase my dreams,” Hamm said.

While thousands of “Idol” hopefuls were sleeping soundly, Hamm set up her sleeping bag early July 15 to make sure she was one of the first people to audition in Richmond.

After camping out in the hot sun for more than eight hours, Hamm said she was not nervous to audition but more anxious to get it over with. Before the audition, Hamm listened to Beyoncé’s rendition of “At Last” by Etta James, and knew she would use that song.

“When I first auditioned, we were in groups of four and standing in a line,” Hamm said. “One-by-one we stepped up and sang.”

Not only did her song choice carry her to the next round of American Idol, but it also made Hamm the first person out of Richmond to be selected.

To prepare for the next round, Hamm’s family raised $1,000 to pay for her flight and hotel fees for auditions held Wednesday Aug. 18 in Kansas City, Missouri.

For this round, Hamm waited nearly 12 hours to audition. While she waited, Hamm said her emotions went up and down. 

When it was her turn to audition, Hamm sang “Brand New Me” by Alicia Keyes, and then sang “Russian Roulette” by Rihanna in front of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr.

“They said I sounded really good on the first song I sang,” Hamm said. “On the second audition, the judges said they could tell I was nervous.”

The judges decided that Hamm’s “American Idol” run would end in Kansas City, Missouri.

Hamm said her audition in front of the judges was the first time she ever met a celebrity. If she was selected to go further in the competition, Hamm said “Idol” could have conflicted with school.

“Right now I’m just taking it one day at a time, and seeing where God takes me,” Hamm said.

Even though she did not make it to the next round, Hamm said she enjoyed meeting people from all over the country at the “American Idol” auditions. In the future, Hamm said she plans to sing locally in Richmond, and will work on putting out her debut cd.

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