Verdigris teen Kailey Abel prepares to audition before the
“American Idol” judges in Little Rock, Arkansas. Abel impressed the producers when she tried out for the show last summer
during the Tulsa Bus Tour.
February 2016: She’s going to Hollywood! While Kailey Abel, a Verdigris High School sophomore, is excited about the opportunity she has to compete in the final season of “American Idol,” the 15-year-old is grounded in her faith, trusting God to open or close the right doors for her.
Reared in a music-loving and music-playing family, Kailey has been singing since she was a child and currently leads praise and worship for Genesis Youth every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Verdigris Assembly of God church, where Michael, her father, is the senior pastor. Kailey, also a songwriter, also performs with her school choir.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that she considered singing professionally. “A former church member, Stacie Brown, had left to pursue a music career in New York,” says Kailey. “She contacted me about tryouts for ‘The Voice’ in Oklahoma City this past summer.”
With encouragement and support from Brown as well as her family, Kailey tried out and made it past the first round of open auditions. However, she didn’t make the second cut. And, even though she was invited back for the next season, she had to turn it down.
“After I received a ‘no’ from ‘The Voice,’ Stacie told me, ‘Let’s get to work on ‘American Idol,’” says Kailey. “She’s the one who made me aware of these opportunities and encouraged me not to give up.” Kailey auditioned for “Idol” during its Tulsa Bus Tour last summer.
Because she impressed producers with her own renditions of “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley and “Light Me Up” by Birdy, she can’t accept the invitation to return to try-out for “The Voice” again. However, Kailey is excited about this opportunity. “There’s a lot of negativity in the music world,” she adds. “I want to bring a positive note to it.”
The bubbly teenager with a passion for music and sharing her faith through song admits she was nervous before her tryout. “Although we were prepped before our auditions in Little Rock, it was still nerve-racking. I’m a rule follower,” she says. “We were told that when we appeared before the judges to stand on the ‘T.’ It was supposed to be taped to the floor.” However, Kailey didn’t see the mark on the floor. “When I finally blurted out, ‘Where’s the T?’ Harry started laughing and said, ‘Just stand on the ‘American Idol’ logo.’ It broke the ice and I wasn’t nervous then.”
Kailey wowed the judges with the same two songs. “Harry said, ‘I’m jealous of your children,’” she says. “I was confused until he added, ‘One of these days, your kids are gonna get to sit around and listen to that lullaby voice whenever they want – and that’s not fair.’”
Kailey’s not the only one excited about this opportunity. Her father says, “We’re so proud of her, and we’ve always believed in her and her gifts. Her strength is her voice and we know God will use her gift – He will open doors for her.”
“I just pray that whatever level I make it up to, God’s will be done,” she adds. “I want to be an inspiration, whether through Christian music or inspirational music that can be crossover as well.”
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