Clay Singer’s ‘Idol’ time Comes to End in Las Vegas

The following article appeared in Clay Today on Feb. 23, 2012

By Christina Leach Phillips


MIDDLEBURG — Steffanie Renae is back home after being eliminated from the American Idol competition in Las Vegas, but she said she plans to try again next year.

The 15-year-old singer made it to number 47 out of 300 contestants by first surviving four rounds of competition in Hollywood where the number of contestants was narrowed down to 70. Then, that group went on toLas Vegaswhere Steffanie was cut after performing a melody with two other contestants during the Feb. 16 American Idol television episode.

“I wasn’t sad — I just think of it as a learning process, and that I just have to go back and do it again,” said Steffanie. “I know I did my best, so I am not very sad about it.”

Steffanie’s mother, Andrea White, was there to hug Steffanie after she got the news that her group was eliminated. A tearful White, said, “I really thought they were one of the best . . . I really did.”

Steffanie’s grandmother, Valerie Elston from Middleburg, said Steffanie called her fromLas   Vegasand said she was going to audition again next year.

“Believe me — she is a trooper,” said Elston. “I couldn’t be more proud of this little girl — I mean first time out at 15 years old, and she goes all that way — that’s amazing.”

Steffanie said she now knows what to expect for next year. “I know how to handle things now. I know what they want and what they don’t want.”

One of the things that Steffanie said she learned was to be strong and not let people “walk all over you.”

“When I go back, I’m going to be my own leader instead of following everybody else like I did. I think that is why I got cut just because I wasn’t making my own decisions — I let people make them for me,” she said. “You have to be your own person.”

She said she also learned to, “Always eat before you sing.  It actually helps you not pass out because there was a lot of that in American Idol. I call it the ‘Idol Bug’ because everybody was fainting, everybody was throwing up. . .”

Steffanie said the contestants were there all day and couldn’t leave the room because they were being video taped. “When they have bathroom breaks, people wouldn’t take stuff from the snack bar, they would just go to the bathroom and come back, and that is how they got sick.”

Steffanie said she had Goldfish crackers to snack on and did not get sick.

As Steffanie waits to try out for American Idol next year, she will remain busy with many local singing appearances.

“She pretty much booked the rest of this year and all summer long,” said Elston.

On Friday, Feb. 24, Steffanie will open for Linda Davis and the Bellamy Brothers in Concert at theMoroccoShrineTempleinJacksonvilleand will also make an appearance at the Chili Cook-off at theMoroccoShrineCenteron Feb. 25.

At the 2012 Clay County Fair, Steffanie will open for the Oak Ridge Boys on April 7, and she will sing at the Suwannee River Jam in Live Oak, Fla., May 2 – 5.

Steffanie said she plans to go back toRidgeviewHigh Schoolin the fall after being homeschooled this year, and then she will begin to prepare for the next American Idol auditions.

“It was a pretty good experience — I think I’ve learned a lot, and my voice has really improved since I came back,” she said. “I will definitely be auditioning next year.”