‘I am so grateful’: Centerville grad Micaela McCall reflects on ‘American Idol’ journey



Micaela McCall’s journey on Season 22 of “American Idol” ended April 1 but she’s embracing her future with renewed creativity and optimism.

“I am so grateful,” said McCall, 28. “Going from busking to national television just doesn’t seem real. I’ve gained so much confidence, and being introduced to the world by Katy Perry is not a bad way to do it.”

During Hollywood Week, which was filmed last December and aired March 31 and April 1, McCall was chosen out of 143 singers to advance to the Top 56 but failed to land in the Top 24.

When McCall performed for judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and the aforementioned Perry in the Idol Arena, a new gladiator, “Hunger Games”-esque format seen in the March 31 episode, she performed the Linda Ronstadt classic “Long Long Time,” which figured prominently last season on the critically acclaimed HBO drama “The Last of Us.” Her performance wasn’t televised but she advanced nonetheless.

“I write in the indie folk/rock genre and I wanted to give tribute to a singer in that genre and show my roots a little bit more,” McCall explained. “I sing soul, but I also have this folk side, so I wanted to show the (judges) that side. I also think the song is a timeless, gorgeous heartbreak song. It has meat in it, so you can really dig into the chorus. And Linda Ronstadt is an incredible singer.”

During the Showstoppers Round: Final Judgment, which aired Monday, the contestants performed in front of a studio audience as well as the judges. McCall performed Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.” Her rendition wasn’t televised but she says she felt good about her song choice even though she was eliminated.

“The song has such a big, positive message,” she said. “It’s uplifting, joyful and fit my spirit. I felt amazing about it. I had the time of my life up there. I thought I was going to make it through. I felt pretty confident.”

Looking back on her “Idol” experience, McCall is pleased to have received positive encouragement from the judges.

“I felt a lot of love from the judges, especially Katy and Lionel,” she said. “Lionel said he loved my vibe. It was great to have his approval singing ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered.’”

The Centerville High School graduate punched her ticket to Hollywood on the Season 22 premiere which aired Feb. 18. At her “Idol” audition in Santa Barbara, Calif., where she teaches voice and piano, McCall wowed the judges with her unique musicality by performing a slower, laidback version of the traditionally upbeat “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours).”

In addition to the judges, McCall also appreciates the support she received at work where her students range from 7-year-olds to adults.

“The energy at the studio is definitely amped up,” she said. “My students have been so excited. It was hard not to tell them what happened on ‘Idol,’ but even after they found out they told me how proud they were of me.”

Credit: Disney

Credit: Disney

McCall, daughter of longtime Dayton Daily News reporter Ken McCall, previously told the Dayton Daily News she was “obsessed” with such music legends as the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and Bill Withers. She also participated in numerous music activities including Centerville High School’s contemporary a cappella troupe Forte formerly directed by Ben Spalding, Epiphany Players Drama Ministry formerly directed by the late Kay Frances Wean, and Kettering Children’s Choir co-founded by Artistic Director Emeritus Natalie DeHorn.

She also feels her journey can be an example for others unsure whether to follow their dreams, especially in the music industry.

“I think I was just really scared of the music industry and what people would think and that it wouldn’t be a warm, welcoming place,” McCall said. “The world can be a lot warmer than you might think and more receptive to your gifts than you might think if you really go for it, open up, and decide to share what you have. I’ve found that people in the arts have been really kind to me.”

Looking ahead, McCall’s primary goals are writing and recording music, working with her band and potentially moving to Los Angeles. She says she has at least “two albums full of music” in her budding catalog thus far, including her original song “Milk and Honey.”

“‘Idol’ was a hugely helpful next step,” McCall said. “I’m absolutely glad I did it. It was the start to my career. I’ve been working this whole time to develop my artistry, but in terms of showing it to the world this was the first step. My goal is to fully pursue the project of sharing my music. I would love for people to keep a watch out for the music I’m releasing and my live shows if they are in California. My goal is to branch out and be able to play across the country eventually, including Dayton. People in Dayton have good taste in music.”

Right Now with Russell spotlights arts and entertainment news every Friday and as news arises. From the latest in local arts to the latest in film, music, TV, theater, awards season and other hot button topics, the goal is to fill you in on what’s new in order to satisfy your entertainment cravings. He can be reached at Russell.Florence@coxohio.com.

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