Nick Fradiani '08 won a golden ticket to Hollywood.
The professional musician, who graduated from Wheaton with a major in U.S. history, earned a spot on American Idol in an audition in New York City that was broadcast last night.
Fradiani, a resident of West Haven, Conn., performed the Peter Gabriel song "In Your Eyes" for the television program's panel of judges Harry Connick, Jr.; Jennifer Lopez and former Idol winner Adam Lambert.
For the Wheaton community, his selection as one of the contestants to start the season in Hollywood, Calif., was probably expected. While he was a student at Wheaton, Fradiani performed regularly in the Loft and the Lyon's Den, on his own and with various student-led bands.
Since graduation, he has been building up a successful career as a performer with the pop rock outfit Beach Avenue. The ensemble has opened for groups such as Styx, Third Eye Blind, and REO Speedwagon, all while promoting their work on their own. The group caught the attention of a Syco Records talent scout, who invited the band to appear on “America’s Got Talent” this past summer, where they made it to the semi-final round of the competition.
That experience showed in his Idol audition. Fradiani watched his girlfriend, Yanni Gavrilis, audition unsuccessfully for the program, but then he calmly slung his guitar around and launched into the song that was a radio hit for Gabriel and for Jeffrey Gaines.
About 60 seconds into his performance, Lopez held up her hand to stop him, saying "That was nice, baby." The judges exchanged a look and Connick told Fradiani, "Your genre is extremely competitive this year."
A moment later, the Wheaton grad emerged from the audition room, holding a golden ticket and an invitation to perform in the program's competition.
"I’m feeling kind of lost for words," he told Ryan Seacrest. "It’s a pretty incredible experience. I’m pumped."
Wheaton fans showed their excitement on social media, too.
Word has it that Hollywood Week begins February 4, 2015. As the contest heats up, Fradiani may need his Wheaton fans to get in on the voting. You can keep up with Nick and root him on by following #teamfradiani on Facebook or Twitter.