Local Teenager Finds Success on American Idol


Fox 2014 American Idol ©

Samantha Verdisco, Staff Writer

From Bradenton to Boston, Hollywood to the highly acclaimed Idol stage, Sam Woolf, a Tampa Bay local, captured the attention of the nation on the television series, American Idol. The eighteen year-old Floridian, who is now nationally recognized for his appearance on the show, began his interest in music at an early age.

“I have been singing ever since I was little, but I started taking it seriously about four years ago,” said Woolf. “My grandpa got me singing lessons from an opera singer. [I] didn’t learn how to sing opera, but I learned the right [singing] technique. I started playing guitar when I was fifteen and ever since then, I just tried to perform out locally and get as much experience as I could behind the mic.”

Proving that practice makes perfect with time and dedication, the singer-songwriter embarked on a trip that ultimately transformed his music career.

“I always wanted to audition for one of those competitive TV shows. I always watched American Idol, so I thought I would eventually go for it,” he said.

Standing in the same position as Idol alumni Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips, and other award-winning artists was no easy task for the Bradenton native. The audition process, broadcasted as a simple wait and walk into the judges’ room, is actually a complex procedure that home viewers do not witness while watching the show.

“There were a bunch of rounds you had to go through [during the auditions],” said Woolf. “There were four executive producer rounds before you even got to perform in front of the judges. If you made all [the cuts] you got to go in front of the judges, which is what you see on TV.”

Despite pressure to succeed prior to live voting shows, Woolf managed to not only pass the producer rounds, but also earn three yeses and a golden Hollywood ticket from judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick, Jr.

As an early front-runner, the Tampa teenager flourished and continued to progress throughout the competition. He performed songs ranging from Lego House, by Ed Sheeran, to Sail Away, a personal favorite, by David Gray.

When on the brink of elimination, the judges unanimously voted to use their only save of the season on Woolf, allowing him to remain on the show for the following weeks.

“[Being saved] was crazy! I was shocked, amazed, and happy that I got it,” he said.

Woolf placed fifth in the competition, but hopes to create and album in the near future.

“I want to put my own music out,” he said.  “I want [my fans] to be able to relate to my songs and hopefully be able to help people.”

As for now, the recent high school graduate is touring the country with the other nine finalists on the American Idol Live Tour.

When asked for one last piece of advice he could give students, Woolf replied:

“Just do your homework and work harder.”