A chance to be an 'idol'
In mid-January most UNH students were returning to Durham for the spring semester. Alex Preston, however, is not sitting alongside his friends in classes. Instead, he is sitting in Hollywood alongside his fellow contestants on American Idol as he rises up in the competition.
Everyone has a dream that he or she wants to follow, however it's not always easy to drop everything in order to follow it. While sitting across the small round table in Breaking New Grounds in Durham last week, singer Preston revealed how he did just that.
During his freshman year at UNH, Preston deferred his college education to move to Nashville, Tenn., to try to make it as a singer.
"It was a pretty last-minute decision," Preston said.
Preston moved in with his cousin in Nashville, who is none other than the acclaimed country singer, Jo Dee Messina. Preston lived with Messina and her family for several months, beginning his musical journey.
"I started networking and exploring the business aspect of the industry," he said.
While removing his leather jacket, Preston explained that he wanted to see if he actually wanted to be in the music business.
"I needed a real taste before I committed to something," Preston said.
Preston confessed that it was very scary dropping everything and moving to Nashville.
"I didn't know anyone but my cousin," he said.
While in Nashville, Preston would sit outside of various bars. Unable to go in because he was not yet 21, he would just watch the artists play their guitars.
"I went to all the record labels and gave them my demos," Preston said. "I was doing what everyone else was doing."
Preston made the move back to his home in New Hampshire this past June. He was making plans to go back to school at UNH until he was presented with several huge musical opportunities. One such opportunity was opening for The Backstreet Boys, Gavin Degraw and Of Monsters and Men at Boston's Mix Fest. It was then that Preston's father suggested that he audition for American Idol.
"My dad said, 'You should audition for American Idol now that you have that experience,'" Preston said. "So I auditioned online."
According to Preston, there were 20,000 online auditions and 100,000 auditions in all. Preston ended up receiving a callback after his online audition.
"I was expecting to go home the first day ... but then I got into the next round," Preston said.
Preston made it past all the producer rounds until he finally flew out to Salt Lake City to sing in front of the judges. While fidgeting with his sunglasses, Preston recalled how he felt that day.
"I didn't think I'd get through, I was super nervous," Preston said.
However, Preston did receive his golden ticket and a chance to continue on during Hollywood week. The world was introduced to Alex Preston last Wednesday when his audition aired on Fox.
"After I got my ticket I called my mom," Preston said. "They made me put it on speaker phone and she screamed so loud. It was funny."
According to Preston, he didn't always want to be a singer. His major while at UNH was business and pre-medical.
"I wanted to be a dermatologist," Preston said. He actually didn't even start singing until high school. Preston claimed that it was his friends that got him into singing.
"My band forced me to. I wasn't good at all," Preston said, chuckling as he recalled the memory. "I guess I've gotten a little better."
Preston said he was in disbelief when he made it onto the show. "I used to watch the show," Preston said. "Me and my family used to watch it every week."
Now a significant member of the show, Preston has met all of the other contestants for this season competing in Hollywood. Along with meeting the other contestants, Preston was able to meet this season's judges as well.
"J-Lo smells so good," Preston said. "It was the first thing I noticed."
According to Preston, although there are many talented artists on the show this season he believes he has a chance of winning.
"I'm going to try my best," Preston said.
However, if that doesn't work out Preston claimed he could always go back to school and follow his second passion. Although he claimed that he hopes being on the show will spark a career for him.
According to Preston, winning would be great, however, even if he made top 10 or three he would be happy. Preston claimed that he used to dream of being on the show as a kid.
"I never thought that I could ever make the show," Preston said. "Now it's all so real and happening so fast. I just got to enjoy it I guess."
"Alex Preston" was a world wide trending topic on Twitter after his audition aired on Wednesday. His personal Facebook status read: "I trended worldwide on Twitter today. Wow. This is insane."
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