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From Panther to Idol

Submitted by on February 5, 2010 – 10:40 amNo Comment
“I don’t realize how big of deal it is, because it’s all so surreal. When people ask me for autographs and pictures, I feel so silly. It’s really cool though.”

“I don’t realize how big of deal it is, because it’s all so surreal. When people ask me for autographs and pictures, I feel so silly. It’s really cool though.”

Former SFCC Panther Shelby Dressel is working her way to becoming the next American Idol.

Rumors were abuzz in July after the Orlando auditions for American Idol that Dressel, 18, Avon Park, received a golden ticket to Hollywood. Although many people were skeptical as to whether it were true or not, Dressel proved to the world on Wednesday, Jan. 20 that she has what it takes when the Orlando auditions aired on T.V.

“I actually kind of liked your voice,” said Randy Jackson, American Idol judge. “I thought the voice was cool, and I actually liked that you were kind of afraid of us, and we looked like we were kind of afraid of you, and then you broke open the ice, and we were like ‘yo that’s our girl.’”

Dressel attended SFCC in the fall of 2009 and is currently taking time away from her studies to pursue American Idol.

“I’ve been in such a whirlwind since receiving the golden ticket,” she said.

 But it’s an opportunity she almost missed.

Having just graduated from Avon Park High School in May, auditioning for American Idol wasn’t something she was planning to do. However, her aunt Michelle Sedlock was convinced her niece was Idol material.

Sedlock posted the American Idol Orlando audition information on her refrigerator a month before the July auditions as a constant reminder. Dressel finally gave in knowing that either way it would be a good experience.

To prepare herself for the big day, Dressel, who had never received formal vocal training before, decided to take voice lessons with Sandra White, retired Sebring High School chorus teacher.

All the while, she was contemplating the most important decision of them all – what song to sing. Dressel through and through is a country singer at heart, but she knew Simon Cowell, American Idol judge, doesn’t care for country music. This led her to sing “Turn Me On” by Nora Jones but with her own twist.

Audition day proved to be a grueling experience. Dressel was the very last audition on the first day and waited 14 hours to see the judges.

“The experience was so nerve wracking and hectic,” Dressel said. “There were cameras everywhere. I was very nervous and had no idea what to expect.”

Once inside the audition room, she won the judges over receiving a yes from all four judges – Cowell, Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and guest judge Kristin Chenoweth – but not without leaving a memorable impression first.

While singing, Dressel became so overwhelmed by the experience that she forgot the words and let an unexpected cuss word slip.

“I don’t really remember what happened,” Dressel said. “When it aired on T.V., they actually cut a lot of the song out that I had sung. They normally don’t allow people to sing for very long, so I was really surprised when they allowed me to keep singing. I was so taken aback and overwhelmed that I just went blank, and well, you know the rest.”

Once she returned back home, golden ticket in hand, it was time for Dressel to prepare for her big trip to Hollywood. And as any other female would have done, she went on a shopping spree to be camera and stage ready at all times.

Now she is in Hollywood, living the Idol life. Dressel is looking forward to the opportunities that may arise from this experience and ultimately hopes it ends in a record deal. But she is thankful for all that she has already gotten to experience, she said.

As lead singer of the country group, The Shelby Dressel Band, Dressel has performed at events throughout the state.

As lead singer of the country group, The Shelby Dressel Band, Dressel has performed at events throughout the state.

“It’s so crazy, I have a lot of fans,” Dressel said. “My band’s facebook page and Web site, www.shelbydressel.com, have had tremendous activity. It’s awesome to see how different all the fans are, I’ve had people from all over – Australia, London, Ireland, South Africa, and so many more. I’ve even had 53,000 hits on my YouTube clip.”

As to being a hometown star, Dressel says it’s “surreal.”

“It’s funny and crazy,” she said. “I don’t realize how big of deal it is, because it’s all so surreal. When people ask me for autographs and pictures, I feel so silly. It’s really cool though.”

Dressel has overcome a lot to get to this point in her life. When she was born, her seventh cranial nerve did not develop properly, leaving the right side of her mouth slightly drooped.

At first, it was a self confidence issue, Dressel said, but as she grew up she overcame it. Her experience on American Idol has helped boost her confidence even more and has made her appreciate her differences, she added.

Dressel left for California on Jan. 10 and is eager about what lies ahead.

“I’m relying on God and whatever he has planned for me,” Dressel said. “I’m at ease because I know that it’s all going to work out as it should.”

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