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Mooresville teen advances to Hollywood round of ‘American Idol’

O'Hara

By Brianna Hodges
For the Salisbury Post

MOORESVILLE — Back in October, 17-year-old Mooresville native Shannon O’Hara waited for her shining moment backstage before her audition for “American Idol” in Savannah, Georgia.

O’Hara played the piano to pop powerhouse Adele. She chose Adele’s hit song “When We Were Young,” because of the connection she felt to it and the impressive vocal range that the tune would command.

“I practiced my song over and over and over again on the piano and I just had to figure the blueprint of what I was going to do with the song for the allotted time that I had,” O’Hara said.

Music has been a passion for some time now for O’Hara, who started to learn the piano at age 6. By age 13, she had taught herself how to play the guitar.

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always loved music,” O’Hara said. “I’ve always wanted to pursue music, write and play. It was just always about music for me. … Before the audition, I felt at peace, which was pretty weird, but I felt confident about it and that it was going to go really well.”

She would walk on stage to be greeted by this season’s judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, whom O’Hara has fond memories of listening to during her childhood.

“I actually grew up on a lot of The Commodores and a lot of older music, because my parents both listened to it,” O’Hara said.

After hearing promising feedback from the judges, O’Hara received the infamous “Golden Ticket” to the next round in Hollywood. Look for her during the “American Idol” episode at 8 tonight on ABC.

“I actually didn’t really remember what they said, but when we were watching my audition back, it was like I was hearing it for the first time,” O’Hara said.

It might be a shock to some people that the home-schooled senior did not have butterflies in her stomach during her first on-air performance. But this was not her first shot at auditioning for a singing competition.

O’Hara had auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” twice when she was younger and once on “The Voice” in 2015, when she did not make it past the preliminary round.

O’Hara has been a fan of “Idol” for years and has watched all of the seasons without missing a beat. She recalls her favorite season being the sixth year with winner Jordin Sparks.

“I have actually wanted to audition for “American Idol” pretty much as long as I can remember,” O’Hara said. “I grew up watching, and it’s always been the one I wanted to be on. It’s been my dream ever since I was little.

“I knew that it was meant to be because it was the one I really wanted the whole time.”

O’Hara is open about her Christian faith, and she said that was her No. 1, “unspoken” message through her process during the competition.

She attends Christ Community Church where she leads worship at youth group and various Sundays throughout the month.

“When they found out about ‘American Idol,’ they were really supportive about it,” O’Hara said of the church.”They have been very excited about it, and this whole time, they have been trying to have a party like every episode.”

Although it is still very early, O’Hara has her eyes on the prize, and she knows how vital this competition is for her family, friends and community.

“To win this competition it would mean everything for my family,” she said. “We’ve been struggling over the past year financially. And for my community as well, I have had a lot of people supporting me.”

Her father, who has a vascular disease and went through multiple surgeries, has been a strong supporter and motivator for Shannon.

“Trying to do this for him, it’s been difficult, but I am so happy to have his support, and he has been very supportive of me,” she said. “He went to Hollywood with me and that was really sweet.”

If there is one thing for certain, it is that Shannon O’Hara is very talented.

The judges saw her to be a major threat with her voice, passion and realism. We will all have to hang tightly until this Sunday’s episode of “American Idol” to see O’Hara’s fate. Will she advance?

Brianna Hodges is Catawba College senior and an intern for the Salisbury Post.

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