Bronx Born Singer Voted Out Of American Idol
By Jon Minners
Brenna Gethers had the look, style and abilities to be the next American Idol, but if she had won the coveted title and subsequent recording contract, she would owe it all to her unique attitude, an attitude that has its roots firmly entrenched in the Bronx; an attitude that, although she didn’t win the competition, will still make her famous.
Gethers, 25, was born in Lincoln Hospital, and lived on Daly Avenue and Morris Avenue before her parents split up and her mother took Gethers with her to Mount Vernon, where she currently lives today. Despite being a resident of Mount Vernon, Gethers still considers the Bronx a home away from home.
“I still have family living on Hughes Avenue, Crotona and by the Bronx Zoo,” she said proudly. “I still go back to the Bronx very often to visit my grandmother and cousin. The Bronx is still in my heart and I am thankful for the borough’s support.”
Viewers who had been following the show for the last several weeks watched as Gethers auditioned in Boston, made it to Hollywood and used her somewhat unique personality, a combination of attitude, ego and sex appeal, all with an underlying heart of gold, to be chosen out of millions of Americans to be one of the final 24 contestants; 12 males and 12 females chosen to put their fates in viewers’ hands.
Although she finally lived her dream of singing for the first time at the age of 25, the recently ousted American Idol contestant, who counts Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Beyonce and Usher as her favorite singers, has been singing since the age of three. “I would sing to make myself happy,” she said. “It was my escape. A lot of people in my area were doctors and lawyers; they had a Rolls Royce or a Mercedes; I had my singing. Whether it was at church or in school, I would sing anywhere I got a chance.”
The singing made life more enjoyable, but Gethers had a very enjoyable life regardless thanks to her mother, who she calls her American Idol. “I didn’t have the best of things and I didn’t have the worst of things either,” she said. “It was more toward the middle. My mom never let me know just how poor we were. Maybe we’d have a candlelit dinner with the lights off. I just remember that singing just made me happy.”
Gethers notes that no one, other than her cousin, knew how serious she was about her singing. “When I told my mother I was going to try out for American Idol, she asked me, ‘can you sing?,’” Gethers fondly recalls. “She knew I could sing. I was on the choir in college and I would sing all the time, but she didn’t know I wanted to perform. I kept it to myself.”
And she didn’t even know she would audition for American Idol until nine days before auditions were held in Boston. “I was at work, pretending to work, and it just hit me that I should try,” she said. “I knew God really touched my spirit at that moment, because it was the summer and who is thinking about American Idol at that time. You are thinking about vacation and when I thought of American Idol, I knew I had to try. I went online; I was pretending to work, as I said, and I looked up the auditions. I had nine days to go to Boston.”
Only at her job for two months, Gethers surprised her bosses with the need for a personal day. “They said I hadn’t earned a personal day, but I told them I really had to take one,” she said, noting that one personal day turned into three when she advanced through the competition. “I returned to work and they said you can’t be serious, coming back after taking three days off like that,” she added. “I showed them the paper and told them it was great working there, but that I had to follow my dream. And I was not going to quit right off the bat; I was not going to do them like that, but I found my purpose and I had to take this opportunity.”
That attitude, she feels, makes her an American Idol, regardless of the fact that she was the fifth contestant eliminated from the Top 24. Gethers believes she has all the qualities to still be an American Idol on her own; someone who can connect with anyone, anytime and place on a personal level. “Whether you are from the barrio, the ghetto or anywhere else, you need to find out what your dream and purpose is in life; what makes life worth living for you and go for it,” she said. “Maybe someone sees me on the screen and it makes them realize that they can follow their dreams; gives them the courage and strength to go after what I want.”
For now, that dream was taken away from Gethers. The strong persona gave way to a softer side that all three judges disapproved of, including Gethers’ favorite, Simon Cowell, who she likens to Cod liver oil; hard to swallow, but good for you. Cowell almost proved to be correct in believing that Gethers showed the wrong side to the viewing public, as she stood up early during the first week’s results show, potentially the lowest vote getter, breathing a major sigh of relief with another opportunity to showcase the attitude that has made her a favorite. But when she sang a Donna Summer tune, she didn’t capture the essence of the legend, leading voters to eliminate her along with three other contestants last week.
“It was nerve wracking,” she said. “It’s like being a duck. You look calm, sweet and silky on the outside, but underneath it all, you are paddling like crazy. I was just trying to stay afloat. I am not ready to fly just yet, but my moment will come.”
When she does become famous, as failure is not in her vocabulary, Gethers says she owes it all to her New York attitude. “I am grateful for that,” she said. “It’s like when you have to fight for a subway seat or push past people on 42nd Street to get to where you need to go.”
Where does she go from here? “I will continue to strive for excellence in all that I do, while still enjoying my first love, music and singing,” she said. Gethers believes she could be a triple threat and will do anything it takes, in terms of hard work, to get her name in the spotlight. “I'm ready to make some cash,” said Gethers. “Thank you, fans, for supporting me. It's been an awesome ride. Let's make some good music, America.”
American Idol can be seen on Tuesday and Wednesday on Fox at 8 p.m. with the results show on Thursday at 8. Check your local listings for more information or go to www.idolonfox.com.
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