published Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Lauren Alaina makes big first impression on 'Idol'

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    Contributed Photo Lauren Alaina (Suddeth) has moved on in the "American Idol" competition.

LISA DENTON: "American Idol" has sucked me in again. I had to watch the whole hourlong episode Thursday night before it happened, but the minute I heard 15-year-old Lauren Alaina (Suddeth) of Rossville sing and saw how poised and confident she was onstage at the Nashville auditions, I was sold. And so were the judges.

CLINT COOPER: Young, perky and talented, Lauren certainly fits the profile of what producers were apparently looking for when they lowered the age of contestants to 15. With her segment reserved for the end of the show and the promotion of it throughout the show, the producers evidently see big things for her in the Hollywood rounds and beyond.

KAREN NAZOR HILL: Her audition on Thursday night's episode blew me away. Not only is she incredibly talented, she's equally as friendly. I loved it when she asked the judges to meet her family. Having been an "Idol" fan since day one, I've always loved the hometown sequences. If Lauren makes it to the top, you can bet she's going to have not only North Georgia residents cheering for her but Hamilton County folks, too.

LISA: She has sort of a husky singing voice that reminds me of Kelly Clarkson's. And her initial song, Faith Hill's "Like We Never Loved at All," is a vocal workout, but Lauren made it look easy. Randy Jackson called her audition "the best we've seen in Nashville." She made Jennifer Lopez tear up. And she sang an impromptu duet with Steven Tyler. All in about five minutes. Wow.

CLINT: The real test will come first in the Hollywood rounds, which may have been completed already, and then in the later rounds with the addition of live television. Lauren and her fellow 15-year-olds may have sung in front of talent competitions, church congregations and school assemblies, but they've never faced that kind of pressure. Of course, most of the 20-something contestants haven't either, but 15 years old is still very young.

KAREN: Judy Garland was 16 when she starred in "The Wizard of Oz," so I don't think age is a factor when it comes to talent. Lauren has been performing in the North Georgia and Chattanooga area for years. In fact, she has competed in local talent shows including our newspaper's Kid Talent Search at Riverbend in 2007. She was a 12-year-old winner who performed on the Bud Light Stage. Judging by her performance and personality last Thursday night on "Idol," I think the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School cheerleader has a good shot of making it to the top.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281. Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or ldenton@timesfreepress.com.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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