Kelly Clarkson. Ruben Studdard. Kris Allen. Carrie Underwood. Spencer Lloyd?
UALR sophomore Spencer Lloyd got one step closer to American Idol stardom when he wooed the judges during his January audition in Austin, Texas.
Lloyd is no stranger to singing competitions. After having a brief stint on NBC’s The Voice last year, Lloyd decided to abandon the idea of competing again. Lloyd changed his mind, however, when he heard the American Idol tour bus was coming through Little Rock, stopping near the Clinton Library – only 15 minutes away from his house in Bryant, Ark.
“A lot of people were saying, ‘Hey, Spencer, you should go audition for this.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know, I just got done with that other thing and I don’t think I really want to go into it.’ [Trying out] was just kind of off of a whim. I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I’ll go do it.’”
Two weeks later, Lloyd was up at 5 a.m. preparing for what would be the first hurdle of his journey.
“There were a bunch of people that made it from Arkansas and I was one of the last people that made it from Arkansas with their calls,” Lloyd said.
Before traveling more than 515 miles to his next audition in Austin, Lloyd and his mother made an agreement.
“I was like alright mom, here’s the deal,” Lloyd said. “‘If I make it this far, then I don’t have to go back to school next semester.’ She was hesitant at first and then afterwards she was like, ‘OK. But only if you make it this far.’”
Lloyd found it difficult to keep his cool minutes before performing in front of some of the biggest names in music: Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban.
As if that wasn’t pressure enough, the show introduced a new feature – the American Idol Chamber. The contestants stand in an elevator-sized room surrounded by lights and cameras, waiting for a green light to flash.
“So you’re sitting in there with this giant mirror on you and you’re just standing there with all these cameras and microphones around you waiting to go in there. It’s like that was the most nerve wracking part I had of the whole entire experience,” Lloyd said. “It seemed like forever, but it was probably only like a minute.”
The tension Lloyd felt inside the chamber melted away when he was met with an outburst of astonishment from superstar Jennifer Lopez.
“Oh my God, are your eyes blue? Green? You’re a pretty guy,” she said, during Lloyd’s televised audition.
“So that was reaffirming and it helped me get more comfortable in the situation,” said Lloyd. They were talking to me and treating me just like I was anybody else. Even though they are celebrities, they’re just people too, that [sing] for a living.”
Armed with his guitar and a bundle of confidence from Lopez’s comment, Lloyd sang Colton Dixon’s “Never Gone.” Dixon is one of Lloyd’s favorite musicians and the song is often sung at Lloyd’s church, where he serves as a worship leader.
His song choice sparked immediate response across social media.
Jordan Sparks, winner of the show’s sixth season, tweeted, “Did HE just sing a worship song for his audition?? Yes!! That’s amazing!!”
“It’s a song that speaks to me and it’s something that I connect with,” said Lloyd. “It speaks a positive message and that was just something that I wanted to put out there and not sing something else. Right off the bat people could tell what I was about. Understand that this is the kind of lifestyle that I’m living.”
Connick was not overly impressed with Lloyd’s voice though, telling him, “The part that’s missing for me is that you’re an OK singer.” Still, Connick admitted that Lloyd certainly has the American Idol image. With that, all three judges voted “yes” and Lloyd snagged the coveted golden ticket to Hollywood.
During Hollywood week, which airs Feb. 5 -6, he plans to surprise the judges with an original song written by Lloyd himself.
“It has to change at some point because you’re limited if you try to sing all Christian songs. I’m still putting out a message that I think anybody will be able to listen to. So, whatever song that I choose, I’ll make sure that it’s appropriate. I don’t think that I’ll be singing a bunch of Christian songs, but I think I’ll be singing songs that I think people can relate to and that are applicable and that work well with my voice.”
No matter what happens on American Idol though, Lloyd said the experience has taught him a valuable lesson: “Never to underestimate yourself and [to] understand your worth.”
“It means so much whenever you finally realize that you’re not like anybody else in the world,” said Lloyd. “You have something that no one else has. Once you realize that, it changes the way you think and it changes everything that you do, every way that you respond to anything that comes your way. It’s a great feeling to be able to understand that there’s a reason that I’m here and there’s a reason that I’m doing this.”
Lloyd said he started singing when he was 14 years old. He got his first guitar at 13, but he didn’t like it. “I had guitar lessons and everything,” he said. “I didn’t practice. I hated practicing. I hated plying the guitar. I hated all of it. I didn’t find it entertaining at all.”
It wasn’t until one Christmas morning when Lloyd received an acoustic guitar that his love for playing music blossomed.
“At that point everything just started to change. I started learning music and I started picking it up. I started to become the musician that I am today. It’s a long way from what I used to be to what I am now. It definitely started at that moment.”
You can continue to follow Lloyd on his journey by connecting with him on Twitter and Instagram at @urthaifriend or join his Facebook fan page “Spencer Lloyd” to get the latest on his journey.