Ali Shields, the Lodi girl with a big smile and lots of personality, wooed celebrity judges and nabbed a ticket to the next level in Hollywood by rapping, “booty dancing” and singing at her “American Idol” audition that aired Sunday night on Fox.
Shields, a Lodi High School graduate who is now a sophomore at Utah Valley University, watched the Sunday night airing with friends and track teammates in Orem, Utah. The show had been taped in San Diego in October, but she didn’t know what to expect. Watching herself on TV was weird, and she laughed at herself most of the time.
She showed off her quirky personality and strong voice, but would she change anything about her audition?
“Maybe I wouldn’t have booty danced on national television — but I probably would have. Let’s be honest,” she said.
Shields first rapped “Look at Me Now” by Chris Brown and then sang Corinne Bailey Ray’s “Just Like a Star” for judges Jennifer Lopez, Stephen Tyler and Randy Jackson.
Wearing a white skirt with a pink cardigan and a constant smile, Shields entered the audition room with her hands covering her mouth.
“Steven Tyler — I’m in love,” she said, pointing to the Aerosmith front man.
When they asked her to sing, she said she was going to rap, and then proceeded with the rap song “Look At Me Now.”
The judges were surprised, but Jackson asked if she “ghetto danced.” Seconds later, Shields was leaning over with her hands on her knees and dancing for the judges.
The judges laughed as Shields looked slightly embarrassed and muttered, “I can’t believe I just did that.”
Jackson was amused by her willingness to play along, but wanted to hear more. Shields started singing a song by Corinne Bailey Ray to showcase her voice.
The judges smiled and clapped, and Jackson said, “You can sing!”
“I can?!” Shields squealed.
Several members of Shields’ family and friends were waiting outside the audition room and could hear her singing; they knew she was doing well. She ran out of the audition room waiving the yellow pass that meant she’d made it to Hollywood Week, the next level.
“It was crazy,” said Clay Shields, Ali Shield’s brother. “We were freaking out. She never thought she’d get that far.”
Originally, her family tried to sway her from doing a rap song in the “American Idol” audition, but Shields did it anyway.
“She’s quirky like that,” Clay Shields said. “She’s always making up funny songs and raps.”
The audition was not only shown on the show’s season premiere, but the show featured Shields’ personal story before her audition, including her appearance last year on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Shields’ younger sister Camryn Shields said she and her family were so surprised that her sister had such a long feature on air.
It had been one of Shield’s goals to meet DeGeneres, so she wrote a song to Ellen, sang it and posted it to YouTube. When DeGeneres saw it, she surprised Shields, who was simply in the audience to watch the show’s taping.
Shortly after, Shields attended the Grammy Awards as a field reporter for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where she received her first kisses from musicians Mike Posner and Usher.
Shields’ mother, Heidi Shields, says last year’s experience on “Ellen” is what encouraged her daughter to try out on “Idol.”
“When she got on ‘The Ellen [DeGeneres] Show,’ she gained some confidence,” said Heidi Shields, who added that her daughter is originally a songwriter and has only been singing for a couple of years. “Ellen encouraged her.”
In an interview on “American Idol” with host Ryan Seacrest, Shields said, “Ellen inspired me to think that anything was possible, so why not try out for ‘American Idol?’”
Shields, 19, is continuing to focus on her college career and running track even as the first week of “American Idol” airs. She says life is the same, though on Sunday night she had 463 new Facebook friend requests, 30 Facebook messages and 100 Facebook notifications.
Sunday’s auditions, where she earned the yellow pass to Hollywood Week, was recorded in October. Hollywood Week was also recorded last month, though she is not allowed to say how far she made it in the competition.
“If I did or if I didn’t make it, I’m going to be able to sing no matter what,” she said. “I’m in school and I want to get my degree. I still don’t know what I’m doing with my life.”
Contact Lodi Living Editor Lauren Nelson at email@example.com.