Teenager advances in 'American Idol' auditions


Carson Denfip, a junior at Marshall County High School, stands in front of an "American Idol" bus outside First Tennessee Pavilion in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he participated in the first round of auditions for the show. He has moved on to the second round of auditions on Sept. 20 in Atlanta.

Nearly 375 miles separate Benton from Atlanta, and that might be all that stands between Carson Denfip and pop stardom.

The 16-year-old traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee, last week to participate in the first round of "American Idol" auditions and earned himself an invitation to the second round of auditions in Georgia later this month.

With more than a thousand "Idol" hopefuls on the scene at the First Tennessee Pavilion, the audition process took up most of the day.

"We got up at like 4 in the morning for the actual standing-in-line part. I was up in the front, a little bit closer. We waited in line for six or seven hours," he said.

Denfip then filled out some paperwork and was approved to move on and wait in another, shorter line.

"We got to go stand in another line for another good two hours, and they finally let people start auditioning after a long, tiring wait," he said. "What you do is you step up and sing one of your songs and then the judges like you or not. It's sort of a filtering process.

"There was a lot of talent there, and I don't consider myself up to par, usually, but I guess something worked and here I am," he said.

A junior at Marshall County High School, Denfip has been watching the singing competition for much of his life.

"When I was younger, around 5 or 6, my mom went through cancer. It was kind of a hard time for me, but I always had music around," he recalled.

"We would always watch 'American Idol.' It helped us get away from the sickness."

Denfip hopes to go even further in the competition for another family member's sake.

"My grandfather is about to go in to get surgery," he said. "He's getting older, and I just want to have him be able to watch me succeed in my passion."

Denfip's love of music has followed him through the years.

He takes regular piano and guitar lessons at Allen Music and plays in a band, Wake Up Call, which has performed at J.P.'s Bar & Grill and the Robert Cherry Civic Center in Paducah.

In terms of music taste, Denfip is a fan of rhythm and blues, soul and alternative.

His favorite artists to cover are currently fellow Kentuckian Chris Stapleton and Allen Stone, a blue-eyed soul singer from Washington.

His top two songs right now are Traci Chapman's "Fast Car" and "Too Close" by Alex Clare, both pop songs that can be injected with a good amount of soul.

"Both are pretty powerful songs, depending on the version you do," he said.

Denfip is doing his best to prepare for the next round of auditions.

"Right now I have a pretty busy schedule with soccer, but any chance I get I will basically run over all my songs," he said. "I try not to scream a whole lot at the games, drink lots of water and keep my voice and lungs healthy."

The second round will take place on Sept. 20 at Infinite Energy Arena in Atlanta.

The premiere date for this season of "American Idol," its second on ABC, has not yet been announced.