Lifestyle & Human Interest

8 Celebs Who Were Rejected by 'American Idol'


Famous names such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are forever linked to “American Idol,” the long-running singing competition that gave both singers their big break.

“American Idol” premiered in 2002, and “The Voice,” a similar television show that has launched stars such as Cassadee Pope and Danielle Bradbery, debuted in 2011.

While both singing shows have propelled many unknown musicians to fame, there are a handful of celebrities who were rejected by “American Idol” and “The Voice” yet went on to find fame anyway.

Here are eight celebrities who did not make the “American Idol” cut but never gave up on their dreams.

Maren Morris, 29

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Morris, who has shot to fame as a country singer, told Rolling Stone that she auditioned for both “American Idol” and “The Voice,” only to be rejected by both.

“I think about all of the freaking talent shows I’ve tried out for in my life and I’m so glad I didn’t make any of them,” Morris said.

“It’s full circle, because I was rejected from ‘The Voice.’ I was rejected from ‘American Idol’ — and I’m happier for it now.”

Bebe Rexha, 30

Rexha was rejected by “American Idol” in 2008 only to be invited back as a mentor in 2018, she announced on Twitter.

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This year, the singer has been asked to join “Team Blake” on the upcoming season of “The Voice.”

“Guess what?! I am an advisor on this season of The Voice!! Thanks for having me,” Rexha posted on Instagram.

Kane Brown, 26

The country music star told Billboard that he auditioned for “Idol” hoping for success similar to that of his friend Lauren Alaina. Instead, Brown was told the show “didn’t need another Scotty McCreery.”

Brown did make it on “The X-Factor,” but he said he quit after the show “tried to put me in a boy band.”

Colbie Caillat, 34

Caillat slipped through the fingers of “Idol” not once but twice, never even making it past the preliminary rounds, according to the New York Daily News.

“I am shy, I am nervous. I don’t audition well. I didn’t look great and I didn’t get it,” Callait said in 2011.

Now a Grammy-winning artist who’s part of the country group Gone West, Caillat seems to have found a way to ease those nerves.

Alex Kinsey, 28, and Sierra Deaton, 29

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Known as the musical duo Alex & Sierra, the pair gained fame after winning “The X-Factor” in 2013.

According to Rolling Stone, both tried out for “Idol” on their own but did not make it very far. Kinsey made it into the very early stage of the competition, while Deaton was cut right away.

Chrissy Metz, 39

Before rising to fame on “This Is Us,” Metz tried to make it on “Idol” but did not get very far.

Metz shared her audition story on SiriusXM, talking about the third-degree sunburn she got while waiting in line for her turn.

In the end, Metz said she was glad she did not make the show because her career has taken a different and very successful path.

Naya Rivera, 33

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Rivera made a splash playing cheerleader Santana Lopez on “Glee,” auditioning with the same song she chose for her unsuccessful “Idol” audition, “Emotion” by the Bee Gees.

Appearing on “The Talk” in 2013, Rivera told the story of how she auditioned for the show at the urging of her father but did not advance one inch past her initial audition.

Amber Riley, 34

Another celebrity famous for her role on “Glee,” Riley said she was rejected by “Idol” when she auditioned at 17 years old.

The star is OK with the outcome, appearing in musicals and live television such as ABC’s “The Little Mermaid Live” in 2019.

“You know what? I still work on Fox and I get paid! Thank you, ‘American Idol,'” Riley said, per Access Hollywood.

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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