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Sarasota's Syesha Mercado offers advice to her fellow Tampa Bay area American Idol contestants



Syesha-mercado625-ap Since the Tampa Bay area has a couple of singers with ties to the area competing in American Idol 's Top 24 tonight and Wednesday, I asked Sarasota-raised singer Syesha Mercado, who made it to the Number three spot on Idol back in 2008, to offer some advice.

Her email came too late for inclusion in today's stories I wrote for the Times. But Mercado, who has been performing in a touring version of Dreamgirls, offered some interesting insights, so I've placed the email here. Catch up with her online here.

Here's hoping Michael Lynche and Janell Wheeler are paying attention.

What advice do you have for idol hopefuls at this point in the process? What were your feelings like when you hit the semifinals? What did you accomplish that allowed you to proceed so far?

Our Vocal Coach Bird said it best "You are on location not vacation". So, stay focused and remember your goal is to do your best at performing not socializing.

Pace yourself, get rest when you can and make sure you have a team back home that you can call for encouragement and support. Also as far as song choices; pick songs that you like and you know you can song well and connect to emotionally. Don't pick a song that someone tells you to sing, do what you like. America wants to know who you are so be you!

When I hit the semifinals I was ecstatic, but I knew it was just the beginning to lots of hard work.

Positive thinking, working out and a good support team back home kept me there every week. I would write in my journal positive affirmations to keep me uplifted. I stayed in the gym to alleviate the stress and I made sure to call back home to speak to my loved ones for that reminder of why I was there and that extra confidence boost. They kept me encouraged and motivated me when I felt like it was too much. It doesn't hurt to have a positive voice to call on when you are feeling discouraged.

Was there something special about your arts training in Florida which helped you succeed?

Performing has always been a passion of mine and I knew at an early age the only way to be great at your talent is to work on it daily. I was privileged to have charter schools and performing arts schools at my access. All my teachers had years of experience and they treated me like I was a working professional. My training taught me what discipline was and gave me the tools I needed for every audition and project I worked on. 

I'm extremely proud to see other Tampa Bay contestants chasing their dreams too. It makes me proud. The audition process for Idol is tough, so to know they made it this far is something to be proud of. 

If you had five minutes alone with them before their performances next week, what would you tell them?

"Do you" and "Enjoy each moment, because before you know it it will be all over."

And assuming they don't win the show outright, what's the best advice for surviving the time AFTER idol?

No one will work harder for you than you so keep pressing towards your mark.   

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:05pm]


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