Fans of "American Idol" will soon be able to watch two women from the Hudson Valley sing their hearts out on the show and fulfill their childhood dreams.
Both Westchester County resident Amara Valerio of Yonkers and Rockland County resident Dany Epp of Suffern will appear on the beloved show in an episode airing on Sunday, March 12 on ABC at 11:35 p.m.
Valerio and Epp, both lifelong fans of the show, sang in front of celebrity judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie in Las Vegas and said that the auditions were something that they felt their whole lives had led up to.
"It still feels like a dream," said Epp, age 23, who added, "I’ve been watching the show for forever with my mom so just getting to finally experience in person, I never thought I’d be doing that ever."
She added that she has been singing since she could talk, and thanks to her mother, grew up surrounded by music. She unsuccessfully auditioned in 2020 but decided that she would not give up just yet and would try again to audition in front of the show's celebrity judges.
"I finally had this voice in my head that said this might finally be your time," Epp said, adding, "It was an experience of a lifetime."
Valerio also said the audition experience was a unique event in her life, and that it felt like a culmination of her long-held passion for music and singing.
"This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl watching American Idol," Valerio, age 20, said.
"Honestly, before walking into the room I was extremely nervous just because I’ve never done anything like on this scale before, standing and singing in front of three legends-it’s kind of crazy to think about," Valerio continued, adding though that her nervousness melted away once she began the audition.
"Everything was kind of meant to be in that moment, so I was like what’s the point of being nervous when this is everything I’ve wanted," she said.
Both Epp and Valerio decided to sing songs that were meaningful to them and showcased what kind of singers they wanted to be. Epp's selection posed a particular challenge, though, as she sang "The One That Got Away" by Katy Perry, one of the judges who she was standing in front of.
"They were big shoes to fill," Epp said, adding, "I sang the song because I love the song, it’s a beautiful song, and I really wanted to embody, embrace Katy Perry’s lyric ability...It was surreal, it was crazy. You’ll have to watch the audition to see how it all turns out."
As for Valerio, she decided to sing "Bust Your Windows" by R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan.
"I thought that would be a great song to show off my personality and the kind of music I like to sing as an artist," Valerio said, adding that the song has an "upbeat, little-bit sassy" personality to it.
The two Hudson Valley natives both agreed that the experience made them more confident in pursuing careers in music.
"This opened up a whole new door for me that I didn’t really see possible," Epp said, adding, "I definitely want to make a living out of singing."
Valerio has a similar outlook following her audition.
"This experience…reminded me that everything happens for a reason, and this is what I’m meant to be doing, and even if I’m doing it in a less-traditional way, what even is the traditional trajectory of an artist anymore?” she said.
"I’m definitely excited to see what the future holds. Music and singing are always going to be a part of me no matter what I’m doing," Valerio added.
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