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Being Canadian on American Idol didn’t affect my chances of winning, B.C. teen says

Nanaimo, B.C., teen Lauren Spencer-Smith may not have had the hometown advantage on American Idol, but she feels she had a fair shot on the show.

The 16-year-old singer was eliminated from the televised singing competition on Sunday night’s episode, which was broadcast remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on ABC and CTV.

She had made the Top 20 but the field was narrowed down to the Top 11 on Sunday and Spencer-Smith didn’t make the cut.

Some of her fans expressed worry on the show’s YouTube page that because she’s Canadian and audience voting is limited to the U.S. and its territories, she was at a disadvantage.

But Spencer-Smith told The Canadian Press she feels “everyone has an equal chance” because they got the same amount of airtime.

“I think maybe being Canadian could potentially have an impact, but I don’t think it would be a huge one,” Spencer-Smith said in an interview before Sunday’s episode aired.

“I think that we’ve all been aired pretty much a similar amount, and everyone’s watching from home. I do think more people will have tuned in because of corona and they are at home. So I think that’s really helpful for us.”

Spencer-Smith auditioned for American Idol in Oregon in November 2019 after hearing the U.S. series was finally accepting Canadian contestants.

Her powerful pipes blew away judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, who often praised her on social media.

Making the Top 20 and getting to go to Hawaii with the show was “super overwhelming,” Spencer-Smith said.

“Like, my stomach hurt so badly going into the judgment. When they finally told me, I started crying. I was so overwhelmed,” said Spencer-Smith, who was born in Portsmouth, England and moved to Canada with her family when she was three.

Performing with no audience

The Grade 11 student said when the pandemic forced the show to broadcast remotely, producers sent each contestant ring lights, tripods and cameras for their at-home performances.

Spencer-Smith performed from a huge deck at her father’s home, with the picturesque B.C. mountains as a backdrop.

The most difficult part was pretending there was an audience, she said.

“At first we were like, ‘Oh my goodness, what are we going to do?”‘ said Spencer-Smith, who got a Juno Award nomination this year for a cover-tune compilation.

“But it was not that long ago I was actually performing around my house and strutting on the deck and pretending to be a performer, like four years ago. So it feels like I’m just back at home performing how I used to perform. And I’m around my family, so that’s super great.”

Spencer-Smith said the American Idol experience has helped her forge strong friendships with fellow contestants.

“I FaceTime all of my Idol friends like every single day, if not every second day,” she said.

“When corona is over, I already have plans to fly out to them and visit them all.”

She’s also gained industry contacts.

“It’s people that I can now reach out to and write with or duet with and perform with,” she said.

“And obviously the huge impact it’s had on all of our social media — it really gets our name out there a lot more, and you never know who’s watching.”

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