A bit of encouragement from Mariah Carey helped Cal State Monterey Bay student Stevie Rae Stephens land a ticket to Hollywood.
Stephens, a 21-year-old senior from Livermore, auditioned for the prime-time hit program “American Idol” last summer in Long Beach, one of eight sites across the country where singers tried to earn a coveted “golden ticket” to the next round of competition.
“Mariah ended up giving me a thumbs up offstage before my audition and that took some of the nerves away,” Stephens said.
Idol’s “Hollywood Week” episodes will air Feb. 6 and 7.
Stephens has been singing since she was a child. Her parents inspired her to be a performer, she said. “It’s like it’s genetic.”
The Idol audition wasn’t really something she’d planned for. “I auditioned because a friend invited me to do it with them,” she said. “When I learned I got a gold ticket, my first reaction was shock.”
Her favorite “American Idol” contestant is Kelly Clarkson, winner of the first competition in 2002. “She is literally my idol,” Stephens said. “She’s such an inspiration, I love her music. I love her story.”
Stevens plans to pursue her education – she’ll graduate in May with a degree in music recording technology and hopes to pursue a master’s degree – and a performing career at the same time.
According to Dr. Lanier Sammons, an instructor in the recording technology program, Stephens has an advantage over her competitors.
He told the Monterey Herald: “She understands the process of recording from the inside. In her studies, she focuses on microphones,” he said. “I don’t think many “American Idol” contestants will know how a mic works the way she knows it,” he said.
She’s happy to represent her school and is appreciative of all the support she’s gotten.
On the CSUMB Facebook page, 1,083 people have “liked” the story about her success. She responded with a message of appreciation.
“OK, seriously. Over 1,000 likes. You guys have no idea how much support I feel right now,” she wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you.” Learn about the music program at CSUMB.