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KC singer/songwriter Jessica Paige gives ‘American Idol’ another try

Jessica Paige
Jessica Paige tljungblad@kcstar.com

The first two times were charms, but Jessica Paige hopes the third is the most successful.

For the third time in eight years, Paige, a singer/songwriter from Kansas City, has tried out for “American Idol,” the long-running reality-talent show that is celebrating its 15th and final season starting Wednesday.

Paige, 27, tried out for Seasons 7 and 8. (David Cook of Blue Springs won Season 7.) Paige made it to Hollywood the first time but was cut in the first round. The second time she advanced to the Final 46 and was cut before the live performances. This time she got a bit of a jump-start.

“I’m part of a website that sends out your music to different places and one of the sites they mailed one of my tracks to was the ‘Idol’ auditions,” she said. “They heard it and offered me a Skip the Line pass for one of the auditions.”

That meant Paige wasn’t part of the cattle call of thousands.

“I was a little surprised they asked me because I thought the show was meant for younger people who hadn’t been seen before,” she said.

The auditions were in Little Rock, Ark., in early August. Paige had several of her own shows booked at the time but had time to squeeze in a trip to Little Rock and back, which she did, in near-secrecy.

“I didn't let anyone know I was auditioning,” she said. “I only had a 24-hour window between two gigs to go down and audition, so, on a whim, I drove down to the audition overnight and then drove back home after.”

For her Little Rock audition, Paige performed “Chandelier” by Sia.

“It’s a song I’ve been singing for a while,” she said. “It wasn’t my best performance by any means. It was decent, but not great. I was supposed to sing with a pianist … but there was so much distance between the piano and (Paige on) the guitar you can’t hear the piano or even know that it was happening. That kind of threw me off.”

She can’t divulge anything else about the performance, other than the Little Rock auditions will air starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, the second of the two-night opening of Season 15.

Paige had another motivation for giving “Idol” one last shot. For her first “Idol” tryout, producers visited Paige to document part of her life in Manhattan, Kan., where she was taking care of her maternal grandmother, Edith Hazel McRoberts, who died in 2013 at the age of 98. So she wanted to reconnect with them and let them know she and her music career are doing fine.

“I went mostly because of the nostalgia I have with the show,” she said. “The last time I was a contestant, I was really young, so I just wanted to take a walk through those memories again and say hello to the producers. They came to my home and got to meet my grandmother before she passed away, so I wanted to say, ‘Hey, guys. Good to see you. Life is great.’ 

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain

THE FINAL SEASON

The final season of “American Idol” begins 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday on the Fox network (Channel 4).

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