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Thousands Shouting My Name: From Chicken Soup For The American Idol Soul

Jan 20, 2008
Excerpt from Carmen Rasmusen
Top 10, Season 2

My mom has always told me to visualize. "Anything you want to have happen, Carmen, you just have to see it first in your mind. . . ." I knew that she was right, but honestly, there are just so many times that you can hear the visualization lecture without wanting to run screaming from the room -- or at least change the subject.

When I was a freshman in high school, my mom and dad took me to see the Dixie Chicks at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. During the concert, the Dixie Chicks said, "We want to tell all of you out there to never give up on your dreams. Just see yourself doing whatever it is you dream about, and one day that dream will be yours." I turned to my mom and told her that one day I'd be singing in that same place, and thousands of people would be shouting my name. True to style, my mom told me that I had to visualize it, and that's what I started to do every night before I went to bed.

When we heard about the American Idol auditions, my mom immediately said, "You're meant to do this." So I participated in a contest that was held in Salt Lake City at the FOX 13 studios for a guaranteed audition for Idol with all expenses paid to Los Angeles. It didn't mean that the winner of the local contest would even get past the first judge at the Idol audition, but it did mean that he or she wouldn't have to camp out in line.

"I'm so nervous!" I said, as we pulled up to the FOX studio.

"Carmen," my mom said, as we got out of the car, "you're going to win this contest, and you're going to L.A. I know it's your destiny."

One hour later, I was announced as the winner out of 200 contenders of the "Salt Lake City Idol" contest, and was on my way home to pack and hop on a plane.

I sailed through my first audition in front of a senior producer, and my next in front of Executive Producer Ken Warwick. Then it was on to the Big 3 -- which turned out to be the Big 2 because Randy was away filming a commercial. That day, I got my golden ticket to Hollywood.

Hollywood Week was intense. Since I was only seventeen, my mom had to be there. I was happy about that since she was always positive that I was going all the way. Not an ounce of doubt in her mind! Imagine her surprise when I was cut on my third audition, the day before they decided on the Final 32.

My mom put her arm around me as I was going in for that fateful audition and whispered, "I'll be visualizing for you." They had us in lines of twenty and said, "Will everyone in the first line step forward, please? Congratulations, you are going through! Second line, step forward, please. . . "

When I looked at my line, I was with everyone who had forgotten their words or had messed up in some other way. I knew it was over -- and I was right.
"Congratulations for making it this far, but unfortunately . . ." And that was that. It was November 2002.

"I don't get it!" I cried, back in our hotel room while we packed -- this time for home.

"Did you visualize yourself making it?" my mom asked.

"Yes, and obviously, it doesn't work. I don't want to talk about it."

I think my mom was actually kind of in shock. For her, it was like knowing every day of your life that your hair is blonde, and then waking up one morning and it's blue.

So, "Miss FOX 13 Salt Lake Idol" came home, applied to BYU, and started planning a different life. My mom, however, picked herself up from her blue-hair moment and told me she still believed that I was going to be in the Top 12. She believed it so much that every time a FedEx truck passed our house, she fully expected that it was going to stop and deliver a letter from the producers apologizing for having made a horrible mistake and begging me to come back.

Three months passed, and that familiar sound of the American Idol theme song began to fill our house every Tuesday and Wednesday night. I couldn't stand it -- whenever I heard that music, I felt like I was supposed to be on the show. So I would walk out and go sulk in my room, while my nine-year-old sister was busy calling in and voting for Kimberly Caldwell.

Soon there were only a few weeks left until the Top 12 were chosen. I forced myself to sit down one night and watch as the contestants screamed and jumped up and down when they were told that they had made it into the finals. My mother's words rang in my ears: "One of the most powerful forms of visualization is 'acting as if.' See the images, hear the sounds, act out what it would feel like if you achieved your dream -- and see what happens."

Getting up from the couch, I walked into my parents' bathroom. I stood in front of the mirror for a while, staring at my disappointed reflection. Then, I started to smile -- bigger and bigger. I clapped my hands in excitement. Then I started to scream, jump up and down, and shout, "I made it into the Top 12! I'm going to sing on TV in front of millions of people!" I felt the excitement in every fiber, and I swear, although I was just acting, I knew something had shifted. I can't explain what it was, but I was so elated -- for no real reason whatsoever!

Two weeks later, my mom was going out when the phone rang. She was on for longer than usual, so I went in to see who she was talking to. She was grinning from ear to ear and kept saying, "Okay. All right." I could almost taste her excitement. Finally, she hung up the phone.

"Who was that?" I asked.

"Guess," she said, with the cutest Cheshire Cat grin on her face.

"Who, Mom?! Come on!"

"Guess," she repeated, doing a little jumping-up-and-down thing and grabbing my hands.

"Who, Mom, who?!"

Now I was jumping up and down with her and squealing, as she just kept on repeating, "You have to guess."

I knew it had to be someone amazing, because even for my mom, this was no normal amount of excitement!

Finally, she shouted, "It was Ken Warwick, the producer from American Idol. They want you back! You've been picked to be on the Wild Card show. You leave for Los Angeles in the morning." It was February 2003.

I slowly turned to look at myself in the mirror. I started screaming and clapping and jumping up and down, exactly as I had acted it out just two weeks before . . . only now, I wasn't acting. I was really, truly going to be on the show and singing in front of millions.

And one week later, I sat on the bench during the results show and heard Simon Cowell say, "The person I've chosen for the Top 12 . . . is Carmen."

It was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life when I stood up and joined the other eleven contestants. And as I looked over at my mom, something passed between us.

After I came in at #6, and the famous Clay vs. Ruben Finale ended with Ruben taking the crown, we began our forty-city American Idols Live! tour. And I know I will never forget the night when I took the stage at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City . . . and thousands of people were shouting my name.

(Reprinted with permission from Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul: Stories from the Idols and their Fans that Open Your Heart and Make Your Soul Sing).

(Note to iSnare Editor: Our client Debra Poneman is author of the book Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul. The book contains first person accounts of the hit TV show from contestants, fans and behind the scenes crew members. The piece above is from one of the contestants, Carmen Rasmusen. We have Debra's permission to offer these excerpts from her book to iSnare.)
About the Author
Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul is a collection of captivating stories that the television cameras don't see - true, uplifting, and entertaining tales told with humor and candor. Visit Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul
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