Campus Jordan Fox

Alma student Rachael Dahl on American Idol




Back in the fall, Alma College student Rachael Dahl auditioned for the singing show American Idol on a whim. Little did she know that choice would land her a golden ticket and a chance to compete in Hollywood. 

The biology major spends much of her time in labs, traveling the country as vice president of the climbing club, and auditioning for the occasional theatre production. Singing is not typical in her day-to-day routine. 

“I don’t sing that often — just when I have a spare ten minutes to get away with my guitar. I like to post videos for my dad; that’s how this whole thing even happened because I posted a cover for him,” said Rachael Dahl (‘24).

Dahl’s profile was discovered by a former American Idol contestant, who reached out to her and suggested that she send in a tape to the producers. Not expecting anything to come of it, she was shocked when she was told that she was moving on in the audition process. 

“Everything just fell oddly together through a bunch of coincidences, and I just couldn’t pass it up even though I was in school,” said Dahl. 

But the process was not totally smooth, and there was a moment where Dahl was sure that she had blown it. 

“I fell down the stairs of Heritage during one of my zoom auditions and I busted my face open so bad… right as the call was connecting. [Luckily] they rescheduled and were like, ‘Send us a picture, we want to see.’ So, I sent them a picture of me in the emergency room getting stitches and Luke Bryan thought that was hilarious,” said Dahl.

Despite the minor hiccup, the producers loved Dahl and decided to give her a chance to audition for the real deal. She was flown out to Nashville, Tennessee, where she got to show her talent to the celebrity judges. 

“I was flown out to Nashville for that first audition because I kind of sing indie/country. [However] that ended up being a problem because you have to fit into a category and I didn’t,” said Dahl.

Although her audition was not aired, she got three yeses from the judges and advanced on to the Hollywood rounds. 

“After I had sung my song, they gave me criticism… which was that I was way too anxious… and I just needed to be more confident. Luke was on the fence, so he said, ‘No,’ Katy was like, ‘I’ll take a gamble’ and then Lionel Richie said, ‘Yes.’ After Lionel and Katy said yes then Luke changed his answer which was pretty cool,” said Dahl.

Meeting the judges was a surreal experience for Dahl, one that she has yet to comprehend months later. 

“When I first walked in [Luke] was like, ‘You have the biggest blue eyes I’ve ever seen,’ so already off the bat I was like, ‘This is so weird.’ …Knowing that there are so many cameras on you the entire time wherever you are and trying to react but also process what’s happening is so intimidating,” said Dahl.

Even though much of the time she felt overwhelmed, Dahl is grateful for all the people she met and confidence she gained during the experience. 

“Lionel Richie was one of the most down-to-earth people and there was a fun moment behind-the-scenes when he came up to me and gave me a big hug and said, ‘I think you’ve got what it takes: you just need to believe in yourself,’ said Dahl.“The thing that I got out of it was meeting a ton of people who worked in the music industry and realizing that I’ve always thought I didn’t have the potential to do professional work but now I’ve gotten so many different opportunities that I’ve had to say no to because I’m in school,” said Dahl.

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