I’m starstruck. I had the opportunity to attend the Finalists Live! show at the Andy Williams Moon River Theater and see five top-ten American Idol Finalists perform. Not only did I see them perform, but I got to meet each one of them! I was grinning from ear to ear the whole way home because American Idol is a show I’ve enjoyed watching through the years.
Growing up, I looked forward to American Idol each week. After getting home from a long day of school, swim practice, and then homework, I was always ready to crash on the couch and watch crowds of new contestants trying to achieve their dreams by winning the competition. I clearly remember loving Ruben Studdard’s stellar smile and the seemingly effortless way he belted out songs on the show. I remember watching Bo Bice and Vonzell Solomon battle with Carrie Underwood in the final rounds of Season 4.
With the memories of these talented singers in mind, I showed up to Andy Williams Moon River Theater with my family, ready to see Katie Stevens three years after her debut as a 16 year old on the show, RJ Helton all the way from Season One, and the other finalists. Pete Peterkin, a Finalist from America’s Got Talent hosted the show, adding yet another dimension of talent to the set. Before even seeing the Finalists, we were serenaded by a variety of different music idols; Peterkin is an extraordinarily talented impressionist who gave lively and accurate performances of people from President Obama to Ray Charles to Elvis to Tina Turner. Hilarious, talented, and musically gifted, Peterkin was an exceptional host who warmed us all up for the Finalists and their performances.
Had Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, or Paula Abdul seen the Finalists perform, I know they would have been standing up with the rest of the crowd, giving standing ovations and wildly clapping. It was impossible not to absolutely love the Finalists; they are all extremely talented singers, songwriters, and musicians. On top of that, each individual had a special and inspiring story to share with the audience, making it an unforgettable night.
I could gush about this show for hours (trust my family on this one), but I won’t make you listen to me just talk about the show; I’d rather you go see it for yourself! Here is a list of my favorite moments from Finalists Live! (if the fact that you get to meet Ruben Studdard and the rest of the crew isn’t enough to convince you to go):
- At 19, she’s still the youngest in the line-up but Katie Stevens has the voice and wisdom of an old soul. She easily belts out hits such as “Rolling in the Deep” and “Fighter.” Between incredible renditions of songs? She doles out advice such as the importance of staying true to yourself even when it’s tough.
- RJ Helton serenaded me. While singing “Open Arms” by Journey, he made his way into the crowd and sang to me. I’m tellin’ you, there’s a reason I was starstruck after seeing the Finalists Live! RJ has an incredible voice and a personality to match; he’s genuine, inspirational, and a fun performer!
- She’s got a black belt, but the only fighting you’ll see when Vonzell Solomon gets on stage is between audience members over who’s got the best dance moves to go with her upbeat songs. A talented songwriter, energetic performer, and beautiful person, Vonzell (or Baby V, as she’s often called) was the life of the party at the show. Be prepared to dance when she gets on stage!
- Bo Bice sang a number of rock songs that showcased his near-winning voice on Idol Season 4. A clear Southern-grown man, Bo shined brightest when he sang “Sweet Home Alabama,” a number that he’s had the opportunity to sing around the world since his days on American Idol. I’m glad he sang it in Branson so the crowd here could sing along!
- Last, but definitely not least was Ruben Studdard. His voice is out-of-this-world amazing. Stunning vocals are accompanied by funny stories about his childhood, a fierce love for his momma, and that same charming smile I grew to love while watching him on TV.
Can you understand now why I’m still seeing stars? After watching the performances, we capped off the evening by lingering in the lobby to meet all of the Finalists. If you were ever an American Idol fan, or if you just love a night full of incredible music, head on over to Andy Williams Moon River Theater and catch the Finalists before they leave town!