Cesley Parrish, a 16-year-old musician from Highland, survived the first solo and group rounds of Hollywood Week on ABC’s “American Idol.”
Though her solo audition didn’t air, Parrish was featured in the first Hollywood Week episode on Monday evening with her self-titled group “Gurope.” The 16-year-old musician sang with three other contestants: Marcio Donaldson, Maddie Zahm and Samuel James. Every member of “Gurope” moved onto the next round except for James.
During the rehearsal and the performance, the group struggled to remember the lyrics of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” but the judges were impressed with the groups ability to improvise lyrics on the spot.
“That was your worst nightmare right there in front of you,” judge Lionel Richie told the group. “And you pulled it together with a smile.”
Though Parrish made it past the first round of cuts, she will have to compete in another solo round against the other contestants. In order to select the top 24 contestants for the main competition, the judges will need to eliminate more than 100 singers who have made it to Hollywood Week.
As she moves onto the next round of auditions, Parrish tries to remember the advice she got from Richie.
“He told me not to change,” she says. “It’s really hard to stay true to who you are. You’ve got to stay true to your style and who you want to be.”
Parrish also tries to remember her roots and hometown that she loves.
“I’ve lived in Highland my whole life. I like the atmosphere and the people are really supportive of my music. They back me up. It has helped me become who I am. … Old music and the mountains are my life.”
The competition is tough, but Parrish won’t let that stop her from pursuing her dream.
“My whole family is musical, so I’ve been singing my whole life,” Parrish said. “I just started to take my music career more seriously over the past few years. I started to do local stuff at talent shows and write music. I was just trying to perform and get noticed.”
While she was pursuing her local music career in Highland, Parrish was working with renowned vocal coach, Dean Kaelin who worked with David Archuleta before his time on “American Idol.”
“He told me to go try out [for “American Idol”]. I figured I’m just going to try and I guess I’ll give it a shot.”
After she made it past the first few rounds, Parrish’s whole family traveled to New Orleans so she could audition in front of the three American Idol judges: Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Richie, in order to guarantee her spot in Hollywood Week. As the last performer of the day, it had been a long day while her nerves came and went during the anticipation of the audition. But, as she stepped in front of the judges, her nerves went away.
“’American Idol’ has an inviting atmosphere,” Parrish said. “The judges are super nice.”
Parrish felt comfortable singing in front of the judges, but her nerves immediately came back after she completed her song.
“I just hoped that they liked it,” she says. “It was such a cool experience.”
The next Hollywood Week solo round will air Sunday, April 1 at 7 p.m. MST.