This Tuesday, Jevon Ngo, who was born and raised in Socorro, will leave on a jet plane to Oklahoma City, Okla., where he will join thousands of aspiring young men and women vying for the opportunity to sing in front of three prominent judges.
Ngo’s dream is to compete on American Idol, the hit show that’s been the most popular talent contest since it began airing in 2000. Like his favorite contestant, Kelly Clarkson, before him, he hopes that Idol will be a springboard to a career in music.
Of course, about 80,000 people try out for Idol every year, but Ngo, 22, won’t let that deter him. This is the second season he’s tried out for it, and he says the feedback he received last summer was inspiring.
“When I went last year, they were like, you know what, ‘you have a great voice but it’s not strong enough for the competition, come back next year,’” he said. “And, you know, I was like, ‘really? Honestly, I don’t even think I sing good.’ But, they were like ‘no, you have a great voice. Just come back next year and hopefully it will be stronger and work on it,’ so now I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Ngo has always wanted to be a singer. From the seventh grade up through his senior year of high school, he was in the choir. He even attended New Mexico State University for their music program his freshman year but decided the classical, operatic music style taught there wasn’t for him.
As far as American Idol goes though, he’s always been a fan.
“I’ve wanted to (be on Idol) since I’ve seen the show,” Ngo said. “It’s always been a dream of mine in high school and middle school when it came out in 2000. But I never had the confidence, and I was like, you know, if it’s something I want, I need to get over it.”
Ngo has been taking singing lessons with Gaby Benalil, the director of the music ensemble for the New Mexico Tech Music Program. He says the lessons, which usually last from one to two hours, have helped him.
“I owe a lot to her,” he said. “(But) on my own, independently, I’m always singing, whether I’m in the shower, here at work (at the New Mexico Tech swimming pool). I’m always singing, in the car – anywhere.”
Singing at work even helped him gain some local fans — the women who do water aerobics in the morning at the Tech pool at which Ngo is a lifeguard raised almost $300 last summer to help him with expenses on his trip. This year, they’ve raised more than $100.
“We did it just because we wanted him to do what he likes to do and he’s so good to us,” said Georgia Seery, who led the fundraiser. “We know he’s very interested in music and has a beautiful voice.”
Right now, Ngo is working on his bachelor’s degree at New Mexico Tech, but says his career path is “definitely” geared toward music.
“The business degree is if I don’t get where I want to be with Idol or anything else,” he said. “I’m going to jump into the music business and hopefully find some connections there and get on my way.”
Ngo is now concentrating on the competition and trying to get an audience with those three judges. He says he respects their opinions but his main objective is proving to himself he can sing.
“I respect them all, but I’m there for me,” he said. “And I’m not concerned about what this judge or that judge is going to say. If I make it that far, it’s going to be like I’m doing what I need to do to get where I want to be.”
Where he wants to be is in music, and he says Kelly Clarkson has been an inspiration.
“I really look up to her. Like she was the first winner, she’s the original. I like what she’s done with her career and stuff like that. If I ever achieve that, good Lord. I strive to be like her, like hold my own and do well and succeed and not change. She’s stayed so humble throughout this whole experience. I really commend that.”
Ngo will arrive in Oklahoma City on July 17. Registration for Idol is July 18 and 19 at Chesapeake Arena; auditions will follow on the 20. The 12th season of the talent contest will premier in January 2013.