It is not her three-inch, flaming red heels nor her crimson pixie-style haircut that makes Lacey Brown stand out.
Rather, it is her piercing lime-green eyes and her sweet, Southern twang that seems to catch everyone’s attention.
Sipping her tea and speaking softly, Brown is the complete antithesis of the high buzz of energy that fills the hall of The Gathering Place in Galt on Saturday.
She is calm, collected and content.
It is her first time in Galt, but she says it already feels familiar to her because it reminds her of her hometown, Amarillo, Texas.
Visiting to speak on empowering young women both spiritually and mentally, Brown addresses the crowd as if she were speaking with old friends.
She jokes, she laughs and she speaks in earnest when she encourages women of all ages in the audience to be secure with themselves and to understand that everyone has purpose.
“God has a plan for each and every one of you, whether you are in New York City or in Galt,” she said. “Every woman and every girl is worth so much. We have so much to offer the world.”
You would never suspect that Brown used to be so shy, it was painful for her to even converse with her parents, both pastors.
Nor would you suspect that less than a year ago, Brown was taking the stage on the hit television show, American Idol, crooning to top billboard songs in front of millions of viewers worldwide.
Lacey Brown on American Idol
Originally, Brown had not planned on trying out for American Idol, despite her family’s and friends’ encouragement.
One night, her mother sat her down and told Brown that if she tried out, she could be a mentor for young women not only as an entertainer, but as a spiritual leader as well.
“(My mother) said this is what God would want me to do, and she also jokingly said that if I didn’t at least try she would disown me,” Brown said. “So that was pretty much what pushed me to give it a shot.”
Brown originally tried out for Season 8 of American Idol in Louisville, Ky.
She made it through to the top 50 contestants, and she headed to Hollywood for a week of grueling tryouts, she said.
When judge Randy Jackson told her she would not be going any further in the competition, Brown said she immediately felt disappointed.
She was just two slots shy from making it onto the air. But producers asked her to return the following season to try out again.
“I thought that made no sense,” she said. “If they rejected me this season, what makes them think that they will considering me again in six months at tryouts?”
Brown took the next five months off to work on her singing, memorizing as many songs as she could and even taking a few vocal lessons.
When auditions came up for Season 9, Brown believed she was ready to give the audition process another go.
“People are going to tell me no all the time, and you can’t just take ‘no’s’ and live by them,” she said. “You have to turn them into ‘yes.’”
Auditions for American Idol were being held in Dallas, six hours away from Brown’s home in Amarillo.
But Brown and her mother and father made the trek where Brown said she thought she had a good chance at making it through the audition process.
But once she got in front of producers, whom she already knew, she said they cut her in the first round.
“I had that moment where I thought ‘Wait, don’t you know who I am?’” she said. “But the good news was if you get cut in the first round in one city, you can try out in another.”
Brown found out that the show’s producers were heading to Orlando, Fla., next. So she and her family bought last-minute tickets and headed out to see if Brown could try to make it through auditions again.
The plan worked, and Brown made her television debut in as one of the top 12 women finalists
She sang Fleetwood Mac’s hit song “Landslide,” but her performance was not received with much acclaim.
“I am going to be honest with you, after about 15 seconds I was looking at the clock and wondering how much longer this was going to take,” said judge Simon Cowell.
Despite the lackluster reception with her performance, Brown was saved from elimination.
But on March 17, 2010, Brown became the first contestant in Season 9 to be voted off the television show after her rendition of “Ruby Tuesday” by The Rolling Stones failed to garner enough voter support.
“I don’t regret a minute of it,” she said. “And even though I tour, I don’t feel like I am any kind of celebrity. I was just on a TV show. So are a lot of other people.”
Contact Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.