Ten Questions: Sarah Restuccio
A Hammonton farm girl gets a golden ticket
By Terri Akman

Sarah Restuccio headed to the “American Idol” auditions and made a super splash. When the show aired last month, the 18-year-old – and her family and farm in Hammonton – were featured in a short segment before her audition. Then, after she sang a country tune for the celebrity judges, she rapped with Nicki Minaj. In the end, she walked out with a golden ticket.


Why did you want to try out for “American Idol”?

I wanted to show America that you can sing country music and bring a new, edgy vibe to it. I like to put rap in a lot of my songs, so I wanted to show that you can be different and be your own person in what you do, by adding different varieties.


What artist do you think you model yourself after?

Many people say I remind them of Miranda Lambert, because I have a little funky attitude when I do my songs. I like to sing a lot of her songs. I wear feathers and sparkles. People tell me I dress country, though I don’t know how that is described!


Music and Miranda Lambert have gotten you through some tough times. Can you talk about that?

I had a good friend pass away, and Miranda Lambert sang a song that would get me through his passing. He was one of the boys in the Mainland accident, and his brother is my best friend. Even for his father, the song “The Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney got him through so many things. I honestly believe music just heals and helps everyone.


Was this your first time trying out for “American Idol”?

I tried out once before, but I didn’t make it past the first round. This time I practiced a lot – honestly, every day. I worked with my vocal coach and got a couple of songs together I wanted to sing. I would make my family members and friends listen to the songs and choose based on what they liked the best.


Credit: Michael Becker/FOX

Tell us about this audition.

My first audition was in June in Newark in front of producers. I sang “Little White Church” by Little Big Town. They told me right away I made it to the next round in New York in September in front of the judges.

Auditioning for the judges was the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life. A lot of it was a big blur. You walk into a room and see Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Randy Jackson and Nicki Minaj. They are the top musicians in the world, so you are star struck. It doesn’t feel real, because they are people you look up to and want to be like one day. I did a lot of thinking, wondering if they were going to like me, what they were going to say, whether I’d get a yes or a no. I thought it would be a lot easier than it was.

I was sick for my audition and couldn’t breathe through my nose, so the night before my audition I had to change my song. I sang “Mama’s Song” by Carrie Underwood, a song I didn’t sing a lot, but it sounded best with my nose stuffy. Then I rapped “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj and ad-libbed some of my own words. The judges loved it. Nicki was rapping along with me and Randy was like, “Whoa! What’s going on here? You sing your country song and then you rap?” I was very nervous, but when I got into the rap I broke out of my shell. I thought I did well. I got four yeses!


How did your family react?

When I came out of the room my mom, dad and grandma were there, and I was crying because it was an awesome moment. Ryan Seacrest was there, and he’s so sweet and so cute. He congratulated me, and my family congratulated me. It was a moment I’ll remember forever.


What else can you tell us about Ryan and the judges?

Ryan on TV seems like a nice guy, and in person he is even nicer. He’s a sweetheart. He talks to everyone, and he’s so down-to-earth. He’s really funny too. The judges were all really nice. They are very different people, so I think it’s awesome that they are coming together. They have a lot of talent, so I’m sure they will have some great contestants this year. They were definitely there for the people auditioning. Even other people who didn’t do well said the judges gave them criticism that you can use to come back and get better at what you do.


Did you see any in-fighting among the judges?

My first day was also their first day judging together. Actually, I was surprised. They all seemed like they were best friends and like they knew each other. They were all very confident judging. Randy is the veteran of the group and has a lot to say, but they all have equal input. They work together to come up with the decisions they make.


You found out you made it to Hollywood in September, but you weren’t allowed to tell people other than your immediate family until the show aired last month. How difficult was it to keep that secret?

Crazy difficult! Hammonton is really small and everyone’s related in my town. I was scared that my grandfather – he’s an old Italian guy – would open his mouth and everyone would know. But once the commercials came on people would tell me they saw me on TV, but they don’t know what happened. My family and friends who know say they are so, so proud of me. They say, “I knew you could do it! You’re going to be a star one day. You have it!”


What surprised you most about the experience?

Getting the golden ticket!

February 2013
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