The American Idol tour bus stopped in Knoxville on Friday in search of their next big star.
The gates to the first round of auditions opened early in the morning to a line of hopefuls circling Krutch Park downtown, parallel to Market Square.
Contestants from multiple states could be heard singing and playing instruments before stepping under the American Idol tent.
In the midst of the line was UT student Marina Waters who was hesitant to try out.
"My mom talked me into it," Waters, junior in journalism and electronic media, said. "She's been texting and calling like, 'You're so close. This opportunity is not going to come all the time.'"
Waters has been singing for about five years and is self-taught on guitar. She said she hoped to impress the judges with her own performance of "Mama's Broken Heart" by country singer Miranda Lambert, one of her favorite artists.
While Waters anxiously waited, 16-year-old Johnny Newcomb II left the tent with a smile on his face.
Newcomb, a Maryville, Tenn. native, was ready to audition seconds after hearing the American Idol news, his father said.
According to Newcomb, he has been singing since he could talk and began considering music seriously at the age of 12, the same year he began playing guitar.
He plays with his cousin, Walt Williamson, who was there for support on audition day.
“If Johnny has to do something like this, he can get it done,” Williamson said. “If he wants to win he can if he just puts his mind to it.”
Taking inspiration from artists such as Elvis, Newcomb II said his sound “has feeling, soul and sounds like rock and roll.”
Newcomb sang “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephant. The song choice was a last minute decision made with the help of his dad and cousin while in line.
Seeing his son play music feels like living his own dream, Newcomb I said.
“It’s just great,” Newcomb I said. “I can’t believe that he’s up here doing this, because I mean, this was a dream of mine and I never got to accomplish it. So thank God. It’s great to see that he has talent.
“It’s just a blessing.”
The advice Newcomb I has given his son is based around the idea of staying focused.
"If this is what he really wants out of life, bear down," Newcomb I said. "Because you only have one shot at a first impression and this is his on the world.”
Newcomb made it to the next round of auditions and said he hopes for a career in music, but would also like to go to college upon graduating. He explained that he wants his experience with American Idol to be fun, no matter the length of it.
This was the first round of auditions in the 13th season of American Idol, which debuts in Jan. 2014. Contestants who continue to progress in the competition will have their shot to impress Keith Urban and other judges, who are yet to be announced, according American Idol’s website.