NAPLES — Paige Miles, a 2004 graduate of Community School of Naples, made it through the first round of auditions and is headed to Hollywood on "American Idol." Perhaps better yet, several "Idol" spoiler sites are saying she is one of the final 24 contestants on the show.
In a video interview on the "American Idol" Web site, Miles said she had been thinking about auditioning for the show since the first season when she saw Kelly Clarkson sing.
“I just felt it was time for me to get out there and pursue my dream and stop sitting around," she said in the interview. “And also my aunt, the last thing she said to me before she passed was to audition for ‘American Idol.’ I did this for her."
The 23-year-old singer impressed the show’s judges with her combination of stage presence and a big voice that her former drama teacher Mark Danni likened to Aretha Franklin or Lena Horne.
“Soul is her vocal style," Danni, who heads Community School’s drama department, said. “She got that big belty voice. ... She filled the theater. And she’s got quite a stage presence.”
Danni was so impressed with Miles he also cast her in a community theater production.
Miles said the stage presence Danni noticed in her as a high school student is one of her biggest assests.
“I have tons of energy," she said. “My personality is very bubbly and smiley a lot most of the time."
Miles remembered the first time she ever performed on stage. She was 7 years old. She had sang in church, but the first time she did a solo in front of the crowd, she was hooked.
“I knew at that moment, I loved having that microphone in my hand," she said. “I haven’t put it down since."
After graduating from Community School, Miles enrolled at University of Central Florida. But Danni said she didn’t like the performing arts program there. She later moved to Houston. She won her ticket to Hollywood at the Dallas audition.
"We’re very excited (she made it to Hollywood)," Danni said. "We are hoping she goes far."
Connect with Jonathan Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jonathan_foerster