Jade Flores was first turned down by producers from "The Voice." She then was sent home without a callback after performing Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" for talent judges with American Idol on Sept. 3 in Plano.
“When I tried out they didn’t bite for it,” recalled Flores, a 2014 Red Oak High School graduate. “They told me at the end, ‘If anyone would make it, it would be you’ — and he pointed at me — ‘because you’re great, but you’re not current enough.”
With mountains of encouragement from her father, Richard, the two drove 160 miles to Austin three days later for another chance to advance in the audition process. With courage, she again sang “Folsom Prison Blues."
It was the can-do attitude and talent that scored Flores a spot to audition in front of Katy Perry, Luke Bryant and Lionel Richie in Denver. The audition will air March 18 on ABC.
“I went [to Austin] and sang my song just like I do with every performance and they really loved it,” Flores remembered. “Even the people who were auditioning, they were going crazy. I got a standing ovation.”
This was not the first time the 22-year-old musician overcame obstacles that related to her passion.
Flores was a dancer for a while, then boxed and played soccer growing up. She envisioned herself as a future collegiate athlete. One knee injury later, that whole outlook changed. She recalled sitting on her couch with a bum knee watching the Country Music Awards as Keith Urban performed “Only You Can Love Me This Way.”
The performance influenced the 13-year-old to ask her father to purchase her a guitar and promised she would learn within two weeks — and she did. Around that same time, she was repeatedly diagnosed with strep throat, which resulted in a tonsillectomy. She became fearful when the doctor said, “Your voice might change a little bit.”
Flores noted that, before the surgery, she always dreamt of singing, “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers.
“I wanted to do it in a key higher but wasn’t able to. Once I was over the surgery and healed I started practicing again,” she said, “I noticed my voice had changed a little bit for the better. It got a little bit higher. I was able to hit that note without a problem.”
Flores was driven to music by her mother’s interests in jazz and blues at a young age, often singing songs by Aretha Franklin and Etta James. Her heart for country music was inspired by her father’s affection for Loretta Lynn and Reba McEntire.
“I think that’s why a lot of people like my sound because it is different,” Flores expressed.
When Flores auditioned for the Red Oak High School choir, “The choir teacher was not very fond of my voice and it kind of shot down my confidence a little.”
In fact, the first time Flores performed on stage was at her family reunion. She then joined Destiny Voice and Music Studio and was tasked to sing at a Christmas recital. It was her first public performance.
“When I got on stage I was so stage-frightened because it was my first time to sing in front of people,” she recalled. “I was so nervous that I hid inside the bathroom and they had to call me about three or four times.”
“So I finally go, and this next part is kind of gross, but I sing a couple of words and spit up — I was so nervous," she recalled. "I kept singing because that’s what performers are supposed to do.”
It was a learning experience, and Flores was never staged frightened again.
Nine months ago, Flores took the risk and began to turn her passion for music and performing into a career. The decision came after she had waited tables for about three years at Olive Garden in Waxahachie. It also came after she performed at her aunt's funeral, which was when she realized just how powerful the healing power of music could be.
She has since established Jade Flores Events and has sung at funerals around Texas.
“That’s how I’ve been making a living with that and doing gigs on the side,” she explained.
After reminiscing on her self-motivated success, Flores said, “If I can do it, everyone else can too.”
She continued, “I believe that I’m the next American Idol because I want to be able to share my experiences for the world and hopefully that heals somebody, and I believe in the power of music and that it heals.”
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450