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Jonesborough woman earns ticket to Hollywood as a contestant on "American Idol"

Kristen Swing • Jan 24, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Hannah Saults admits singing in front of the likes of Harry Connick Jr., Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez was a bit overwhelming as she auditioned late last year to be a contestant on “American Idol.” But the 23-year-old Jonesborough resident says it was also a relief.

Saults auditioned for the show in October in Atlanta. Although Saults appeared in the previews for Thursday night's show, her audition was never shown during the episode. She was, however, among the more than 40 contestants who received a golden ticket in Atlanta to move on to the next round of auditions.

“It was kind of like a dream. It didn’t seem real,” Saults said of singing the country tune “Bless the Broken Road” in front of the judges. “Harry was really the only one to criticize it, well not criticize it, but tell me what I was doing wrong. Jennifer and Keith said they could tell the sweetness in my voice.”

The performance earned Saults a golden ticket and a trip to Hollywood for the second round of auditions, which have already been taped and will air early next month.

For as long as Saults can remember, she has been singing. She began sharing her musical talent as a young girl in church groups.

“From there, I started going through little, local competitions,” Saults said. “Then I got out of my comfort zone and started talking with some producers.”

But no matter how many individuals in the music industry said they liked Saults’ voice, things never worked out how she wanted.

“It seemed like it was always a problem for the music I wanted to sing,” said Saults, who ultimately wants to be a Christian singer. “I just kept reminding myself, ‘God has given you this voice because He wants you to use it.’ ”

When the opportunity to audition for “American Idol” presented itself, Saults jumped at the chance.

“It’s definitely overwhelming. Just to have the cameras in front of your face, the judges there — it’s a totally different world,” she said. “But it was a relief coming to ‘American Idol’ and I could start out by singing whatever I wanted to. It’s kind of like, ‘This is who I am and this is what I am going to do.’ ”

While music is her passion, Saults said the Lord and her family are her top priorities in life.

She and husband, Josh, have a 2-year-old daughter, Addeline. A 2008 graduate of David Crockett High School, Saults works as a marketing director for Chick-fil-a, watches children in her home and still finds time to sing at her church.

While contractual agreements prevent her from saying whether she made it through the second round of auditions, Saults said the journey already has been “an incredible experience.”

“Getting a chance to use my passion and sing in front of three people that have already made it to the top and are living their dream, that is just amazing,” she said.

You can follow Saults’ journey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hannahsaultstn.

“American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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