Marble Hill teen pursuing her 'Idol' ambitions

Thursday, August 9, 2007
Sixteen-year-old Brandi Gromer of Marble Hill, Mo., is auditioning for "American Idol" on Friday in Omaha, Neb. (Submitted photo)

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Just days after being named as a finalist for the Heartland Idol competition, Brandi Gromer of Marble Hill is headed to Omaha, Neb., to audition for "American Idol." And just as any girl getting ready for a big audition, Brandi's wondering what she's going to wear.

"It'll be something cute and country," she said.

Monday, Brandi was surprised to hear her name announced on Cape Girardeau's country radio station, K103, as a finalist for the station's Heartland Idol competition. Now just a week later, her family's taking the trip to Omaha to see if Brandi can meet her biggest goal yet -- making it to California.

"My goal is to get to California, which really means a chance to audition for Randy [Jackson], Paula [Abdul] and Simon [Cowell]," she said, referring the "American Idol" judges. "That's my big goal."

But first she has to get through the auditions Friday in Omaha, so Brandi's working on two songs before the audition. Her songs are "Love Letters" by Miranda Lambert and "Not Ready To Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks.

"I'm not really sure which one I'll do for the audition," Brandi said.

At 16, Brandi has volunteered and trained to become a volunteer firefighter for Marble Hill. She's a junior at Woodland High School and says agriculture is her favorite subject. When asked what she likes to do in her spare time she has a one word answer.:"Sing."

Brandi said she's not new to singing in front of audiences, saying she's sung "at a bunch of places." More specifically, she's performed at the SEMO District Fair twice, the Little 'Ole Opry in Jackson, twice at Homecomers in Jackson, and locally on Star Search "a million years ago." She also sings regularly in her church choir at Old Union United Methodist Church in Bessville, Mo.

A country girl at heart, Brandi acknowledged she's a little bit intimidated by the number of people that she'll wait with and compete against in Omaha.

"I'm excited to see how many people actually show up," she said. "I'm kind of scared of meeting so many people from different places. They might be completely different from the people here where I come from."

But Brandi's not afraid of the competition.

"I think I have as good a chance as anybody to win," she said. "You have to be a great performer, entertainer and connect with who you're singing to. You have to have talent, too. I think I've got the whole package."

Brandi's not the only person who believes in her chances at making it big. Her parents, Gary and Vickie Gromer, with her brother, Jesse, and cousin, Emma, have pushed and supported Brandi even after her voice was damaged a year ago.

"Brandi spent five days in the hospital a year ago last May," Vickie Gromer said. "She had a respiratory virus that caused us to think her singing career might be over."

But in September, Brandi began to sing again, and with the help of her family and friends, she's ready for competition in Omaha.

"She practices a lot and 100 percent of her heart is in it," said Brandi's cousin, Emma.

The next time Brandi is scheduled to sing in Southeast Missouri is Sept. 12 at the SEMO District Fair 12 as a finalist in the Heartland Idol competition. But this week, Brandi asked for her community's prayers for a steady voice and solid performance Friday.

"American Idol's" Omaha auditions won't air until January, Brandi said.

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