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Hygienist wins 'Idol' gold
She gets to skip the mass audition and meet the producers in Miami.
By LOGAN NEILL, Times Staff Writer
Published August 21, 2007
Charley Belcher with Fox 13 presents Emily Poe, 25, center, of Brooksville, with a Golden Ticket to get her on the fast track into the competition in Miami for American Idol. Second place finisher Johanna Jordan stands at left.
[Daniel Wallace | Times]
[Ron Thompson | Times]
Emily Poe of Brooksville won a bay area talent contest and will have a chance to perform for the producers of American Idol.
BROOKSVILLE - Until last week, the biggest crowd Emily Poe had performed for was the Friday night karaoke regulars at Miss Kitty's Hilltop Lounge.
That was before last Friday when the 25-year-old appeared as a finalist in the Tampa Bay Idol singing competition in Brandon, a precursor to the official American Idol regional auditions in Miami.
Poe says she really didn't think she had much of a chance. And if things didn't go her way in Miami and beyond, she would be just as happy to keep her day job as a dental hygienist.
However, when Poe belted out her rendition of Faith Hill's Take Me As I Am, she thoroughly wowed the four-judge panel, which included WTVT reporter Charley Belcher, country star and WQYK disc jockey Chad Brock and former American Idol contestant Melissa McGhee and Times pop music critic Sean Daly.
Poe's reward, a "golden ticket," means she will receive an automatic meeting with American Idol producers Wednesday, and will be able to avoid the mass audition process that contestants typically endure.
"I never thought I'd do anything like this," Poe said. "All I know is that you have to have talent and at least some luck."
Poe certainly knows a thing or two about luck. Eight years ago she was returning from a family boating trip on the Homosassa River when she was struck by lightning. The sudden bolt stopped her heart for several minutes until a friend was able to resuscitate her using CPR until paramedics arrived.
Poe spent the next three days in a coma. When she woke up, she realized what a precious gift life can be.
"It opened my eyes to enjoy things more, my family, my friends," she said. "It also made me realize that there are good things waiting if you're willing to take the opportunities offered to you."
Being named the next American Idol would mean a lot for a woman who used to sing along with her mom's collection of country cassettes in the office of her parents' Dade City business, the Jack Melton Family Inc.
Poe says that although music has always been a big part of her life, she's never seriously pursued it. Rather, she took a scholarship she won when she was crowned Miss Pasco County Fair 2002 and applied it toward tuition to dental hygiene school.
If it had not been for her younger sister's insistence that she shoot a video audition for the Tampa Bay Idol competition, Poe would not even have entered.
"The video was a bit strange," Poe said. "There I am in my work scrubs trying to look like a glamorous singer. I never thought I had a chance."
But the judges loved the video and chose it along with nine others from dozens of entries.
Poe, her husband, Jeremy, and their 6-year-old son, Chase, and 8-month-old daughter, Bailey, leave today for the auditions in Miami. Emily Poe says she has no idea what to expect.
"All I know is that I want to get there and sing the best that I can," she says. "Whatever happens, I'll be happy with it."