American Idol

Jamie Derrick of Gardner, N.C., registers to audition for “American Idol” at Main Street Station in Richmond Monday.

Stevie Phoenix is hoping her name is memorable enough to stick out in the minds of the producers of “American Idol,” the signing competition show on ABC, which held auditions in Richmond on Monday.

Named for rock front woman Stevie Nicks, Phoenix, like thousands of other hopefuls, waited in line for hours to get a chance to preform for the judges, who, for this first round audition, were show producers, not the celebrity panel including singers Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

“I’ll sing whatever I’m feeling when I get up there,” she said. “I don’t really have a top-notch voice, but I’m hoping that my name and my personality will put me on the judge’s radars.”

The 21-year-old brought along her boyfriend, but kept her audition a secret from everyone else in her hometown of Roanoke.

“It’ll be a good surprise,” she said, “even if I don’t make it. I just want to mark it off my bucket list.”

Around her neck, Phoenix wore her father’s guitar, which she hopes will bring her bit of luck. He passed away when she was 17, and this will be the first time she’s preformed in front of people since then.

“I debated whether to play it—it makes it harder to focus on my voice,” she said. “But it was the best way to feel like he was here.”

Patrick Lynn, the first producer ever hired for the show, said they are looking for more than just good voices.

“This show is not just about singing,” he said. “It’s about personality, your story and your voice—and not necessarily in that order.”

He warned people in line not to let the nerves get the best of them.

“Nerves are the No. 1 killer,” Lynn said. “If you feel like you’re about to embarrass yourself, go right ahead. We want people to enjoy themselves.”

Auditions were held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. As of 1 p.m., Lynn said producers had seen about 2,000 auditions and about 20 have moved forward to the next round. That’s slightly above average, he said.

From this first round of auditions, which are also being held in 24 other cities across the county, those who move on will audition again in either Denver or Atlanta for the show’s executive producers. They will decide who makes it before the celebrity judges.

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Ali Rockett writes for the Richmond Times-Dispatch