Leslie Hunt, Gina Glocksen Talk About American Idol, Chicago and More
For Leslie Hunt, making it to the final rounds of American Idol would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Hunt, a 24-year-old Chicagoan, is one of the final 12 women taking the stage on the FOX talent show Wednesday (the final dozen men perform Tuesday, and live eliminations begin Thursday).
A couple of years ago, however, Hunt would not have had the physical stamina to go through the grueling American Idol audition process.
Diagnosed with lupus when she was 7, Hunt says she had a difficult childhood that was spent largely indoors.
âIt was really tough,â Hunt said in phone call from Los Angeles, where sheâs sharing a room with fellow Chicago-area contestant Gina Glocksen. âWhen I was a kid, there were a lot of limitations. Just a couple of years ago, a miracle medication made be able to do something like this.â
One side effect of lupus was that it was dangerous for Hunt to be in the sun, but thanks to her new medicine, sheâs been able to work as a dog walker for the past couple of years. And she credits the medicine with allowing her to have the stamina to wait in line for six hours at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where she tried out for Idol.
âNow Iâm outside all the time,â said Hunt, who grew up in St. Charles, studied composition and piano at Roosevelt University and has played around Chicago with cover bands and with a group called Mark Twang.
Sheâd never thought about trying out for American Idol, but a near-death experience while traveling left Hunt with a new passion for life.
âI got a vaccination for yellow fever, and I got deathly ill. I almost died when I was in Rio,â said Hunt, who is engaged and lives on the North Side of Chicago. âEver since then, itâs this new mentality for me. Iâm not going to just rest on my laurels and wait for things to happen to me. I have to take a proactive approach.â
Part of her strategy this Idol season is to pick a genre she shines in, without being too predictable.
âIâm going to be varied within reason. I do feel like I have a niche â Iâm not going to be doing the Isley Brothers one minute and Celine Dion the next,â Hunt said. âIâm going to be doing a lot of classic soul, basically.â
âIâll see what my criticisms are this first week and also see what they praise,â she added. âInitially with the judges, I sang both Aretha Franklin and Bjork and they really kind of came down on me for that. They said if I didnât pick a genre, a producer or other people would pick one for me, and thatâs not the ideal way to go.â
For Glocksen, 22, producers actually used editing sleight-of-hand to change the song that the TV audience saw her sing in front of the Idol judges.
In the Memphis audition round, TV viewers saw Glocksen sing âBlack Velvet,â apparently for judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.
But Glocksen said she never sang âBlack Velvetâ for those three judges. She performed âKilling Me Softlyâ for them, and the taping of her performance of âBlack Velvetâ took place in front of another Idol producer at a different time.
âYou never know what theyâre going to do,â said Glocksen. âThereâs a lot of editing. I donât mind.â
Glocksen, who lives in Naperville with her boyfriend, is a veteran of the Idol process. She auditioned in the showâs second season but didnât make the cut. Last season she made it as far as Day Four of the Hollywood round.
This time around, she actually auditioned twice. She didnât make the cuts in the Los Angeles auditions, but she traveled to Memphis for another tryout. At that audition, she got the nod to come to Hollywood.
âIt was really cool seeing everyone again, and seeing all the producers â some of them remembered me from last time,â Glocksen said.
When she did get picked to go to Hollywood, Glocksen, who works as a dental assistant, asked to hug the judges, especially her âcrush,â Simon Cowell.
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