September 04, 2006 11:02 PM by Joe Blackmon
Last year, American Idol producers had to cancel a scheduled audition stop in Memphis, Tennessee because of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts that were taking place in that city. This year, American Idol producers scheduled another visit to Memphis, and the city provided the second highest audition turnout in the six year history of American Idol.
According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, producers reported that 16,000 people registered at the American Idol Memphis auditions. Over half this number were singers, and the remainder consisted of the one guest that each singer was allowed to bring if they so chose. The largest audition turn-out in American Idol history occurred during season four in Washington, D.C. when 20,000 people showed up.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that Nigel Lythgoe said New York in season three had the next largest turnout of 13,000 people. However, he must have forgotten about Cleveland. According to many published reports, Cleveland had 15,000 people turnout for an American Idol audition during season four. Based on either number though, Memphis looks to have moved into the second spot.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal also reports that the contestants were divided into a line that was 30 people across and stretched half a mile around the FedEx Forum. Nigel Lythgoe is also reported as having said that producers are not necessarily looking for the best singer but someone with star quality. Lythgoe pointed to American Idol winner Taylor Hicks as having a great personality and third place finisher Elliott Yamin as being a great technician. Jerome Chism, Cidney Kirk, and Charese Miller were listed as singers that made it through to the next round.