Vidalia teen hopes to be next Idol

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

VIDALIA &8212; Vidalia could be home to the next American Idol.

Kyle Craft, 17, of Vidalia is a student pursuing a dream of being a singer. Craft reached semifinalist status &8212; 12 contestants from area competitions &8212; this week on Cenla Idol to move to the next round of the competition.

Cenla Idol is an early stage of FOX&8217;s television series, American Idol. A record high 88 participants competed in the Cenla Idol over three weekends to fill the final 12 spots. Competitions were held in Natchitoches, Alexandria and Vidalia, and included participants aged 16-28.

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Eight contestants were chosen from each of the three parishes over a three-week qualifying period, beginning July 8. After being selected in the first round each contestant received a chance to be heard on Q92/DQID-FM. After the radio auditions in front of judges, the 24 contestants were then slimmed down to 12.

The 12 semifinalists &8212; including Craft &8212; will go to Alexandria&8217;s Saunders Performing Arts Center to compete for a spot on the television show in January 2007. The grand prize package includes round trip airfare for a winner and guest to an American Idol audition city, hotel room for three nights, plus a guaranteed first round audition for American Idol.

&8220;I hope one day I can meet all my inspirations and sing with Steven Tyler&8217;s daughter, Chelsea,&8221; Craft&8217;s profile said on Cenla Idol&8217;s Web site. &8220;I don&8217;t dream of big houses and cars, though it would be nice. I just want to be satisfied.&8221;

Craft said he favors hard rock, and it defines him as a person. Singers like Aerosmith&8217;s lead singer Steven Tyler inspire him the most, he said on the Web site.

Craft&8217;s profile on the Web said Tyler&8217;s style kicked off his singing and musical career. Craft&8217;s favorite CD is Disc 2 of the Aerosmith CD entitled Oh Yeah!

&8220;I am just a guy with deep thoughts and a dream,&8221; it says. &8220;I find most southerners are care free and humorous. That&8217;s how I would represent all of my area.&8221;

Contestants from Natchez that made the first cut include India Letcher, Ryan Richardson and Bent‡ Thomas. Elizabeth Cowan of Ridgecrest also competed and was eliminated in the Cenla Idol.

Craft and other contestants in the competition are unable to comment due to competition rules and regulations. Visit for more information on the competition.