Incoming UMKC Student First Hopeful to Advance to Next Round

Yes, the “American Idol” bus was parked in the middle of the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus.

Contestants with earplugs awaited their turn to audition. Others were warming up, holding onto shaking papers, surrounded by supportive parents and friends. The excitement was contagious.

In all, more than 500 hopefuls auditioned throughout the day.

View American Idol slideshow.

UMKC student Vincent Edwards was the first hopeful to advance to the next round. He will audition again for producers next month in Kansas City, and that will be the final hurdle before he gets in front of the judges – and a national television audience.

Edwards of Kansas City has been singing all his life, but will major in business management.

“I will definitely go through that (music) door if it opens, but I have to think realistically about my future. That’s why I enrolled here,” he said. He performed “Johnny and Donna” by Mali Music for his audition.

“I feel electrified!” he said. “I was skeptical of myself, but I guess I did OK. I don’t want to get confident because I know I have a lot of competition left.

“It’s an excellent day!”

Several hundred hopefuls had already assembled on campus by 7:30 am. Attire ranged from cowboy to cocktail dress to tattoos and a two-toned mohawk.

Producers then began an elaborately choreographed parade through Swinney Commons south to 51st street. A producer with a bullhorn encouraged cheering and waving as the cameras rolled. In the crowd, excitement vied with sleepiness and nerves.

UMKC graduate student Dylan Burd was among the earliest in line. Understandably, as he has been pursuing the American Idol dream for years, traveling to previous auditions in Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis. He liked having the show come to his campus.

“It was nice to be able to stay in bed until 20 minutes before getting in line,” he said.

Burd earned his undergraduate degree in Education at UMKC and will enter graduate school in August. Unless, of course, stardom comes calling.

He’s been performing since childhood but admitted, “in middle school I was so nervous I couldn’t sing in front of anyone, ever.”

He continued to perform informally while pursuing his education degree, and won the UMKC student talent show in 2010.

In spite of the line that’s extending more than two blocks, optimism is high.

Student Ciara Turner is totally committed to a music career.

Her goal: “to sell out the Sprint Center, but I could be broke and singing in a smoky bar and still be happy.”

She thought having the auditions on campus was a great platform for UMKC.

“If you’re not from Kansas City, it’s a terrific way to get the word out about all the great programs,” she said, and then proceeded to brag to the next person in line about UMKC’S six year medical school program.

“We’re excited American Idol contacted us with this unique and fun opportunity,” said Mel Tyler, UMKC Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “Not only could UMKC provide them with an iconic Kansas City setting with beautiful green space, but also a center of real performance talent. Our campus is home to the internationally acclaimed UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance.




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