Some “American Idol” contestants, as they enter the audition room and stand across from Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr., are overcome by their tremendous anxiety. This immense stress can derail an audition and, perhaps, a dream.
For Columbus’ own Sydney Arterbridge, however, the tremendous spotlight didn’t stand a chance.
“The whole day I was nervous and excited,” Arterbridge said. “But just before I went into the room with the three judges, all my nerves washed away. I don’t know why.”
The 15-year-old entered the room in Detroit in July and impressed the trio of evaluators with a rendition of Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You,” earning her the “golden ticket” to Hollywood.
For Arterbridge, a student at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School in Columbus, the “American Idol” audition was the realization of a dream, but she wasn’t the only one taking part in the moment.
Arterbridge’s mother, Pamela Arterbridge, described her own emotional journey through the “American Idol” experience and couldn’t help but express her pride in her daughter.
“I was very emotional because Sydney has watched ‘American Idol’ since she was a little girl,” Pamela Arterbridge said. “Every year she would tell me that she wasn’t old enough to audition, so finally, when she turned 15, her father and I drove her up to Detroit and were so overjoyed to see her live out her dream.”
For the Arterbridge family, music has always had a central place in the household. Sydney Arterbridge’s father, Damon, is the lead vocalist for a Columbus-based reggae band named The Flex Crew and Pamela Arterbridge sings while she has time away from her career as a hairstylist.
Sydney Arterbridge made clear that she appreciates the consistent support of her mother and father, but she spent some time to further explain her relationship with her dad, the professional musician.
“He’s made a big influence on me,” Sydney Arterbridge said. “I’ve grown up on stage with him. He’s always helped to find performances on the circuit and he’s always been so supportive. He is really, really proud of what I’ve done.”
The Arterbridges share a musical bond and that bond was only strengthened when tragedy struck the family, said Sydney Arterbridge.
When Sydney Arterbridge was a young girl, two of her brothers died in a car accident. She said she owes much of her musical prowess to them, who used to rap.
“My brothers were into music so much, they influenced me at a young age,” Sydney Arterbridge said. “They would tell me when I was little, ‘Get on this track,’ or ‘Come sing on this.’ The accident inspired me to continue their legacy in music.”
Sydney Arterbridge now spends most of her days in Los Angeles working with people in the music business, but wherever she goes, she said, her Columbus roots follow.
“Columbus, music-wise, is a very supportive place,” Sydney Arterbridge said. “I have a huge fan base from my dad and mom. Columbus has taught me to be a friendly, supportive person. That’s what Columbus is all about — it’s always been important.”
In addition, Pamela Arterbridge said her daughter has received plenty of encouragement from her hometown.
“We are so overwhelmed with the community support from Columbus,” Pamela Arterbridge said. “It’s abundant and overwhelming. She gets inboxes from all over, people telling her how great she is and how she inspired them. I didn’t expect this.”
Syndey Arterbridge said while she is unable to divulge any secrets from this season of “American Idol,” all she wants from the show going forward is to bring more authenticity to music.
“I want to be everywhere, I want to sing on a huge circuit,” Sydney Arterbridge said. “I love old music, so I want to bring that back as well. I feel a lot of music today is pop, it’s not really singing. I want to bring back the soul into the music on the radio. I want to really sing.”
Time will tell where Sydney Arterbridge will go, but for now, the young songstress has dreams of a life of musical stardom.
“Madison Square Garden, Hollywood, performing across seas, I want all of that,” Sydney Arterbridge said. “I want to sing for my life. I want to be a legend.”