St. Louis already has a track record when it comes to producing success on FOX's American Idol. Nikko Smith, son of the legendary St. Louis Cardinals shortsop and Carrie Underwood, who caught the eye of judges here, are proof of that. Now, a graduate is about to see if he has what it takes as the latest season of the talent search contest enters "Hollywood Week" Wednesday and Thursday.
Chris Bandi, a 2008 Chaminade graduate, didn't end up in the episode dedicated to the St. Louis audition. But his version of Walking in Memphis was enough to earn a "golden ticket" to Hollywood. In this video posted by Idol producers, Bandi talks about how he first got into singing as a 4 year-old dressed up as Elvis for Halloween. In the clip he says some people think he sounds like Bruce Springsteen, but he believes there's a "uniqueness about my voice," which will help make him the next American Idol.
What about life after those Elvis sessions as a child? One of his teachers at Chaminade said he made quite an impression. Here's what Dan Stout wrote in an email to Patch:
While Chris was certainly not the most well behaved kid in my 6 block class in the 2005-2006 school year, he was unforgettable. He was always entertaining and truly did have a great sense of humor. Because of these traits, I still very much liked having him around. A few years later I had an acoustic guitar in my classroom and found out then that Chris was VERY talented. Not only could he play, but also had a BEAUTIFUL voice! He was playing for a few of us and we were so impressed that we begged him to play for mass, but he would have none of it. For a young man who was quite talkative in class, he was very shy about his musical ability.
When I found out last week that he was going on American Idol I was thrilled and very proud. He had been playing with a band for a few years and I knew that he had the talent to make it. The next day I saw a commercial that included a clip if him coming out of the room with his “golden ticket” and hugging his family. While not surprised that he made it to Hollywood, it was such a thrill and is so exciting to see his success.
He came by to visit me in my classroom last week. It was great to see him and have a chance to congratulate him in person. It was also pretty cool to have a chance to hear directly from him just how difficult of a process it is to get to this next level on the show. I can’t imagine how much work it takes to move on even further.
All of the Chaminade family is looking forward to seeing what he does next!
So is the rest of St. Louis. American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. on KTVI FOX 2.