‘Idol’ judges punch Barker’s ticket for Hollywood week

Priscilla Barker holds her contestant number for Atlanta auditions of "American Idol" last summer. Although she didn't get any TV time last week, the aspiring Amory country singer advanced to Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

Priscilla Barker holds her contestant number for Atlanta auditions of “American Idol” last summer. Although she didn’t get any TV time last week, the aspiring Amory country singer advanced to Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

By Ray Van Dusen

Monroe Journal

AMORY – Last summer, Priscilla Barker went up against more than 7,000 “American Idol” hopefuls in Atlanta with a sense of how music-based reality shows work. She had previously auditioned for “The Voice” but didn’t have the chance to woo the judges since their teams had already been picked. She did, however, come home with an education on how show business works and how to be interviewed in front of the TV cameras.

“I love the camera and that’s one of my favorite parts. I feel like I was born for that,” Barker said.

Now the girl who used to be too shy to even sing in front of her family is off to Hollywood following a unanimous vote from ‘Idol’ judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr.

“Jennifer said that she loved the fact my voice was pure like there was a little girl inside of me. It was really hard not to be star struck,” said Barker, who was so excited after singing to the three that she had a lapse of memory and forgot about the judging part.

While she started with “Jackson” by Johnny Cash, the judges asked for a second song to hear a different side of her talents. Her rendition of “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts earned three yeses.

Barker said those auditioning are initially brought in as groups before “Idol” producers before going into the executive round. The thousands of hopefuls are narrowed down to 78 contestants, who actually perform in front of judges, and 44 advanced to Hollywood from the Atlanta auditions.

“It makes me confident just talking about those odds and knowing you made it out of those 44. The Lord allowed these doors to open,” Barker said.

Taking that statement to heart, Barker recalled a pre-audition interview when a TV crew asked if she had brought any lucky charms. As part of her response, she showed a charm with guitars, music notes and Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me.”

The episode of the Atlanta episodes aired Jan. 23. Because of the number of contestants to show in the hour-long program, she was not among those shown on TV. Regardless, the hype around the possibility of seeing her and the lingering question if she made it were enough to keep social networks buzzing last week.

“My phone was blowing up and I had so many people talking to me on Facebook and Twitter and I said this is really happening. This is a worldwide show and it’s such a special moment and I was blessed to make it this far. I didn’t get as much sleep that night because I wanted to answer as many people as possible,” said Barker, who thanks everyone for their overwhelming support.

Even in pre-“Idol” times, Barker has had her experiences of fans being star struck around her. She has more recently made regular trips Nashville to perform, co-write material and make more connections in the music industry.

Back on the local front, Miss 98 has helped spread her reputation by spinning her debut single, “Slow Town.” Just as the song that glorifies the splendors of small town life suggests, it’s always refreshing to come home after the glitz and glamor.

“Coming back from the hoop and the la is a transition, but it’s good after you’ve been going 90 to nothing to be able to kick back or go to Walmart and look bad and I can do that and nobody cares,” Barker said.

After the completion of the auditions episodes, viewers can watch for Barker on Hollywood Week. “American Idol” airs locally on FOX affiliate WLOV Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.

ray.vandusen@journalinc.com