The following is an article from the Contra Costa Times (released today). Grace's semi-final performance was one of the few I didn't hear, but there is something very interesting in this article that I bolded.
TO HEAR the booming version of "To Sir With Love" and realize it came out Grace Leer's tiny 11-year-old frame is to be floored.
The Danville youngster was hoping to be the next (albeit younger) Kelly Clarkson when she sang her way into a group of 20 semifinalists last month on Fox's "American Juniors." The younger version of "American Idol," hosted by Ryan Seacrest, will identify five young performers, ages 6 to 13, to become members of a heavily promoted kids' pop band.
Unfortunately, Leer's rendition of the 1967 song made famous by Lulu didn't propel her to the final five and young "idol" stature. Still, her talent was obvious, and Leer's parents have been fielding a flow of recording offers -- some promising, some bogus.
But for now, Leer, whose Danville Mustangs soccer team won the state championship, plans to continue playing soccer, enjoying her summer and plodding away on a steady path toward becoming a professional vocalist. She was recently encouraged anew when she reviewed videos of all her past school talent-show performances, all the way back to the first grade.
"I was not that good," she says with a Cheshire smile. "But then I heard my fifth-grade one. I was like, "Wow, I've really changed."
Q: How did you first hear about "American Juniors"?
A I heard about it from my voice teacher ... She just said, "Did you hear about this new show?"
Q: What did you think when she first suggested it to you? Were you like, 'Oh, yeah, for sure"?
A Yeah, I wanted to do it, because ever since "American Idol" I was like, "They should make a younger show."
Q: How would you describe your first audition in L.A.?
A It was a long, long wait. It was fun also, because we met a lot of people in line. I wasn't really competitive at the time. I wasn't really scared, but I was really nervous about what they were going to think of me. But you know, I just did my best.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out you made the top 20?
A When they said my number and "you're coming back for a second audition," I was like, eek! I didn't want to scream onstage or anything. But I was really excited.
Q: Were you nervous to go onstage?
A It's like a lucky thing for me: Before I go onstage, I'm really nervous, but when I get onstage, all the nerves go away. One time before the first show that we did, everybody was so nervous and so wound up that we started singing behind the stage, all 10 of us, and then we got in a line and we went around the building, out of the building, around into the garage, out again. We were walking everywhere in a line and then we finally got in a circle, and we were looking at people's shoes for some reason.
Q: What do you think it takes to make it as "American Idol" junior?
A You have to have a voice, but you also have to have a personality and the attitude. Because if you go up there and just sing and not smile or have fun, people can see it.
Q: Any role models?
A Kelly Clarkson. She has a really strong voice, a really good personality. She doesn't take the fame too seriously.
Q: Do you remember some of the judges' reactions?
A All the judges' comments were really nice. I mostly remember Justin (Guarini), who said, "First of all, you are absolutely beautiful." Debbie Gibson said, "Very nice job," or something like that. Gladys Knight said, "You have a richness in your voice," and stuff like that.
Q: Were you terribly disappointed not to make the final five?
A Yeah, everybody was, but I got over it pretty fast. I still have these moments when I think about it too much, and get teary-eyed. But it's not like every time I hear "American Juniors" I cry my eyes out.
Q: So what happens now?
A I'm just going back to my regular life. I want to play soccer still. I'm still watching, because now those competitors have turned into friends.