2 Utahns who didn’t plan to audition are still on ‘American Idol’
TV • Kenzie Hall, Austin Wolfe make it past the group stage on Fox singing competition.
Published: February 7, 2014 10:50AM
Updated: February 7, 2014 08:15AM
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Michael Becker | Courtesy FOX Contestant Austin Wolfe auditions in front of the judges on "American Idol."

The two Utah teens who are still alive on “American Idol” have a couple of things in common.

They both turned 17 after their initial auditions. And neither Kenzie Hall nor Austin Wolfe planned to try out when the “Idol” auditions came to Utah back in July.

“I heard they were coming and just kind of brushed it off,” said Hall, a Draper resident and student at Corner Canyon High. “And my mom woke me up early in the morning and said, ‘Hey, get in the car. Bring your guitar!’ And I went straight to auditions.”

Wolfe, who attends Park City High, wasn’t making a conscious decision to avoid the cattle call at EnergySolutions Arena.

“I didn’t even know the auditions were in town until my boss told me,” Wolfe said. “It was such a coincidence that they were coming to Salt Lake.”

Wolfe had always figured she’d audition eventually. Just not this year.

“I’ve been taking singing lessons since I was 5,” she said, adding that she started writing songs when she was 7 and has been an “American Idol” fan pretty much all her life.

“I completely fell in love with it growing up and wanted to be on it, but I never really thought it would happen,” Wolfe said.

Hall, however, never planned to audition, period.

“I always told myself I just wanted to do my whole career independent and stuff like that,” she said. “But it was an opportunity.”

And while she finds herself competing against trained singers, “I’ve never taken voice lessons,” said Hall, who describes herself as “just an acoustic singer/songwriter singing in my basement kind of thing.”

Of the seven Utahns who received golden tickets to Hollywood when they auditioned for judges Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban back in October, Hall and Wolfe were the only two to survive the group stage of the auditions. And both had similar experiences in Hollywood.

“I was kind of expecting it to be just some auditions and to have some fun,” Wolfe said. “And when I got down there, it was hard work. We were staying up late, getting up really early in the morning and singing our lungs out until we couldn’t sing anymore.”

Hall completely agreed.

“It was definitely a lot harder than I expected,” she said. “I’ve seen it on TV and it doesn’t look that bad. But it’s definitely a hundred times harder than you imagine.”

Adding to the stress of the group stage is that it’s just that — a group stage. Each contestant’s chance to advance has a lot to do with how the rest of their group performs.

“You have to put your trust in a lot of people,” Hall said. “You have to have a lot of patience. And that’s a lesson I had to learn while I was there. But we’re all there for the same goal. And it was a lot of fun to work with a lot of different personalities.”

She and Wolfe are on to the next round of the competition, both hoping for the best and trying not to look too far ahead.

“I’m really, really trying not to picture anything that could be ahead,” Wolfe said. “I don’t want to psych myself out.”

“I definitely take it one day at a time,” Hall said. “Hope for the best, expect the worst.”

‘American Idol’

The competition continues on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. on Fox/Ch. 13. The semifinalists will be announced in the following episode on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m.