Could a Seton Hill University (SHU) student really become the next Kelly Clarkson, David Cook or Chris Daughtry? Well, that’s what sophomore Samantha Novacek is ready to find out.
“American Idol” fans tuned in to watch Pittsburgh-area singers audition for the show Jan. 19, which included a performance by Novacek that earned her a trip to Hollywood and a chance at the “Idol” crown.
“When the judges all said ‘yes’ it was unreal,” said Novacek. “I could not believe that I just [stood] in front of these mega-celebrities and they truly enjoyed my voice. I was just so excited and thankful and overwhelmed that I didn’t really know what to do.”
More than 10,000 people gathered at Heinz Field to play ball with the panel of judges—which included Aerosmith front-man Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson—but only a select few, including Novacek, scored a touchdown.
“When we found out she had made it to Hollywood we were definitely so excited for her,” said sophomore Ashley Novak, a close friend of Novacek.
“All Ashley and I kept saying was, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe this is happening to you Sam,’” said Tyler Sanders, a sophomore who watched the episode along with Novak. “We were so proud of her.”
Waves of congratulations crashed onto Novacek’s Facebook page after the episode aired, leaving the SHU community abuzz with excitement.
“Samantha, I am honored to know you. You are talented and amazing and I miss you like crazy,” wrote Davia Peresolak, a sophomore. “You’re going to go far. Just don’t forget all of us when you’re rich and famous.”
Freshman Desiree Declaudio also expressed congratulations for Novacek, but added that “Patti killed me” in reference to Patricia Bell, the self-titled ‘Pittsburgh Planker’ and Novacek’s stepsister. Bell, 23, ‘planked’ for the duration of the audition, making Novacek’s performance memorable beyond her vocal abilities.
“It’s really amazing that everyone has come together in a time that so many things are ugly in this world,” said Novacek, in response to the outpouring of love and support from the SHU community. “God is for sure looking out for me in this time.”
And it has been a difficult time for Novacek, which played a major part in her decision to audition for “American Idol”.
“I had a very dear friend pass away and it was very hard for me to be happy,” Novacek said. “I got a text from my cousin, Jozie, saying, ‘Sam, you have to try out for “American Idol”’ and at first I said, ‘No, I can’t do this.’”
Novacek’s cousin, Jozie Davis, 17, urged her to audition in memory of her friend and requested that she sing “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry.
“At that moment I knew that I had to be there, singing for him, because that was the song that would always pop up whenever I would think of him,” Novacek said. “When she told me that, I knew that that was where I was meant to be and what I had to do.”
For Novak and Sanders, who are also roommates of Novacek, her success on the show was destiny.
“I would always hear her playing her guitar or piano [or] singing some song and I would just stop what I was doing and listen to her sing,” said Sanders. “She is so talented and has such an amazing voice.”
“She deserves it; this is her dream,” said Novak. “It’s awesome to be seeing her live it.”
Though Novacek put her education at SHU on hold while she competes on “American Idol,” she will return to the university as an education major at the conclusion of the show.
She lives in Sutersville, Pa. and graduated from Yough High School in 2010.