Life after ‘Idol:’ Brogden looks to next chapter after run on popular TV singing competition ends
HARWOOD — Landing a coveted spot on “American Idol” was a dream come true for a 19-year-old woman who grew up on the family farm near Harwood.
But Andrina Brogden saw her dream dashed Feb. 18 when she didn’t make it through a new round of eliminations on the popular TV singing competition.
Now she’s taking a lifetime’s worth of lessons about performing and the music business that she picked up during her stint on the show and is more determined than ever to make it big.
“It just kind of gave me a little inside look of what my life could be like,” she said.
Brogden will sing Pharrell William’s hit “Happy” on Saturday during The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead’s eighth annual Fargo Star finals at The Venue at The Hub, and she’s looking for other opportunities that could launch her career.
Brogden auditioned for “American Idol” last summer, getting the chance to sing in front of three celebrity judges who decide whether she would be on the show.
During the six-hour drive from Fargo, she said she was filled with self-doubt, believing she just wasn’t “ready yet.” But that changed when she got to Omaha, Neb., and the show’s host, Ryan Seacrest, gave a short pep talk.
“They had the screen on that said, ‘You could be the next Idol,’ and I was like, ‘You know what, I really want to do this,’” she said. “That’s when I decided to really try, though I still had doubts, and I just basically had my focus on what’s the next step because I didn’t want to look too far ahead.”
It was a “confidence booster” to get the judges’ blessing that day, she said.
But Brogden had to make a hard decision late last year, opting to take the spring semester off from her music production major at Minnesota State University Moorhead that she had just started in the fall. She figured she’d be disappointed about not making the cut during Hollywood Week, or she’d need to focus on singing if she advanced, so she put school on hold.
Her time on “American Idol” became a bigger stress during Hollywood Week filming in late December, when Brogden and another contestant were unexpectedly brought in front of the judges and told one would be sent home — without a chance to sing.
She made the cut, but said it was an “absolutely awful” experience because she had to watch the other hopeful singer be devastated by the news.
“I cried for the first time that whole entire week after that,” she said.
Brogden returned home for a Christmas break and headed to Los Angeles early this year to get ready.
But the next step, too, came as a shock — the show held a first-ever Rush Week round to eliminate 10 of the 30 contestants without a chance to perform live on stage. They only found out about the new round a couple of days before, she said.
On Feb. 18, the 15 remaining female contestants gathered to hear whether they would move on or be sent home. As the judges called names one by one during the hour-long episode, Brogden sat by, hoping for good news that she eventually realized wasn’t coming.
She kept her cool, she said, by remaining “logical” about it. She figured she had a decent shot because she was the last remaining contestant from the Omaha auditions and hailed from the Midwest. But when the judges told a Detroit singer she’d be on the show, Brogden said she knew her time was over.
“By that point, I was like, ‘OK, now I just have to sit this out because they’re not going to call me,’” she said.
After a short discussion with “American Idol” officials about what would happen next, Brogden was taken back to her hotel and flew back home at 11 a.m. the next day. For now, she’s working part time at DSW in Fargo — she was an employee there before her time on the show — and staying on the family farm near Harwood.
A new ‘pathway’
Before her stint on TV, Brogden said she understood what it was like when people would “freak out” in the presence of a celebrity. Now, she’s getting used to being on the other side of that interaction.
Shortly after returning home, she went to a Twin Cities recording studio owned by her uncle, Darren Rust, and said a girl who stopped by was so “starstruck” she couldn’t speak.
Brogden can relate — her moment of being a “fan girl” happened during the pre-Rush Week filming, when she met former “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert.
“I went to shake his hand, and I couldn’t speak,” she said, laughing. “After that, I think I’m good because now I know what to do.”
Her motive for spending time at the recording studio this year is still a bit of a “secret,” she said. But Brogden has a plan for a project that she’ll do with her uncle later this year.
There is one decision she’s made about her future — she won’t be returning to MSUM or another school, at least for now.
She was interested in the production side of music before, and said she still is now. But she’s also drawn to performing, and said it makes sense to pursue that while she has “American Idol” buzz.
“I feel like I have a pathway that I’m going on right now that I need to take instead of going to college,” she said. “I want to see where this leads me before it runs out.”
After appearing on the show, she said she feels obligated to be a good role model for young people. She’s now making it a point to be the best she can — like she had always done before to set an example for her younger cousin.
“I’ve always tried to be good for her, so now it’s just like I’m expanding that,” she said. “I’m being better for other people.”