Goan boy at American Idol

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Orlim lad Earl Fortes was recently invited to America to audition for the popular singing reality show American Idol. He speaks to NT BUZZ from San Diego on how it all happened

CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ

Coming from a musical family, Earl Fortes has been performing on stage since he was around 15-16 years. And the 20-year-old lad has now made his way to San Diego, USA, to audition for season 19 of the American singing competition television series.

With a famed jury comprising singers Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, American Idol has been one of the most watched shows on television with some of its winners like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood going on to become huge singing stars in their own right.

And this year, owing to the pandemic, registrations for the show went online and Earl Fortes who was all the way in Goa was able to try his hand too. After his initial video submission was liked by the producers, a virtual audition was held over Zoom on September 5. Following this, he was then invited to America to audition for the show.

Excerpts from an interview

Q. American Idol has had some amazing singers be a part of the show since its inception. What made you decide to give it a shot? And what was your first thought when you realised the producers liked the first virtual audition?

American Idol is the one show I’ve wanted to be on since I was seven, and travelling 9000 miles is definitely a part of the rush. I think I jumped and screamed to myself out of joy when I knew I was going to San Diego to audition for the celebrity judges.

Q. Even the virtual audition for this competition must have been quite nerve-wrecking. What helped you find your calm?

Auditioning for the producers gave me sweaty palms as each second went by. I sat waiting for the Zoom meeting to start two hours before it even started. My cousin Neil and my girlfriend were the two people who didn’t let my nerves get the better of me on that day.

Q. You performed ‘Any Other Way’, an original, as one of the tunes for the audition. This track has been inspired by the ups and downs in your life. Tell us more about it.

Everybody has their share of ups and downs, and writing ‘Any Other Way’ was my way of telling my story as a songwriter. Like any other rebellious teen, I was having a rough patch and this song shows how I overcame my obstacles.

Q. Being invited to audition in America itself would have anyone over the moon. But was it a little difficult given that you would be travelling during a pandemic?

Travelling was the hard but exciting part. Yes, we are amidst a pandemic and I had to wear a mask during the 40 hours I was travelling, but the adrenaline was rushing through my blood and I couldn’t wait to meet everyone.

Q. What was going through your mind while on the plane to America?

I had to get on three flights and the only two things on my mind were: I am auditioning for Idol!!! And second, I was worried about the virus because it’s a pandemic and I travelled too far to get on a plane and fly back home. But it’s all an experience.

Q. How has the experience been like so far?

American Idol is an experience of a lifetime and meeting people from all walks of life, so full of talent, is sure to just blow your mind. I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot from each day I spent here.

Q. You come from a long line of musicians.

Yes, I do owe credit to my family for always supporting me, especially my mum and dad and my cousin Neil. My uncle Filipe Fortes taught me to play the guitar at first, after which I learned by myself.

Q. You have been penning your own songs since the age of 15. Have you performed these onstage before? What was the response like?

I have been writing songs for a while now and have been performing a selected few on stage; however the American Idol stage is one of the best in the world to make your music known. Back home I did get a positive response from performing originals, but not like Idol.

Q. Who would you say have been your music influences?

I’ve been influenced by a lot of artistes like Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Charlie Puth and many more. However, my biggest inspiration will always be my cousin Neil, who has always pushed me that tad bit I needed to finish up a song. In fact, Neil helped me structure my very first song.

Q. What are your dreams as far as music is concerned?

Every artiste’s dream is to perform in the centre of a sold-out stadium, singing along to his/her song and the one thing I love is when someone can connect with a song I wrote. All I can say is music is my compass, I’ll go where it takes me.