For Hannah Saults, Idol experience a prize of its own

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 18, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Hannah Saults may have not made the final cut for this season’s “American Idol” competition, but in the end, the 23-year-old Jonesborough songstress said she did bring home quite a lot from her Hollywood audition.

First, Saults said, the experience taught her a lot about herself and her music. She got to hug show judges Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez. She got to see Hollywood with her family. And back at home, she got to see herself on national television in several clips from the series’ opening-audition episodes.

In case you missed it, Saults was the young woman shown praying before her audition. That was also her talking and laughing and doing double fist bumps after winning her Golden Ticket to Hollywood. And while you couldn’t hear her, in the last week’s Second Round Hollywood Auditions episode, a three-second clip of Saults actually singing also went out over the Fox network’s airwaves.

“What I took away from it was, when it comes to music, we live in such a crazy world you really have to stay true to yourself,” she said.

“My thing is Christian music and there wasn’t a lot of that there. It just made me want to try harder. It made me want to stand up and say ‘This is what I sing and this is what I sing for.’ ”

Still under contract with Fox not to reveal too much about the show and its production, Saults did confide that her Hollywood audition day actually stretched out over several days. On the final day of her audition, the top 80 Hollywood Round Two contestants lined up to sing at Dolby Theater, one after the other beginning at 10 a.m. and wrapping up about 9 p.m.

“I was the last one to audition and I got cut that night. The vibe I got was they probably had their quota for that day. But it probably happened for a reason, part of God’s plan.”

Saults said her one regret was her last-minute decision to switch her audition piece from Carrie Underwood’s sad and spiritual “Temporary Home” to the upbeat “When I’m Gone” number from the movie “Perfect Pitch.”

“I asked an assistant director, who said the last thing I wanted to do was to sing a slow song and put them to sleep. So at the last minute as I was walking up on stage, I changed to a song that wasn’t my first pick. That’s probably what got me eliminated.”

While the top 30 contestants, 15 men and 15 women, went on to compete in subsequent episodes that will begin airing tonight, Saults and her family went to the beach and to see all the famous sights of Hollywood, including the traditional tour of celebrity homes.

Having her husband, daughter, brother, mother, dad, mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law all with her on the final leg of her long road to “Idol” also meant quite a lot.

“It was exciting. It was a different world. I was out totally out of my element, to be treated like a star and to be walked everywhere I went with cameras always up in your face. One night they even came in our rooms and filmed us while we were going to sleep.”

In the end, she said, “It definitely opened a lot of different doors for me and I’m looking forward to continuing my music career.”

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