Stephanie Gummelt, a second semester freshman here at Missouri Western, followed her dreams by auditioning for American Idol. Gummelt surprised the judges with her unique song choice, performing an original “Chore,” which earned her a ticket to Hollywood.
When Gummelt decided to audition for American Idol she was really nervous and giddy, but at the same time comfortable. She said she pictured the judges as her fans and that they bought tickets to see her perform.
Julie Gummelt, Stephanie’s mother has always supported Stephanie’s dreams, but with American Idol’s rough audition process she was nervous.
“We didn’t really care what happened,” Julie said. “It was kind of an adventure.”
Stephanie was always too timid in the past to audition, but because the auditions were in Kansas City she said she just had a feeling.
“I asked them if I could touch them, and instead of asking like a normal person and asking to shake their hands, I said can I touch you?” Stephanie said.
When first meeting Stephanie, her voice rises but as she relaxes, her voice lowers. She is down to earth and has such an endearing personality, but a lot of critics think her voice is too high to succeed in the competition.
“The meanest things people have said is ‘she’s annoying’ and ‘her voice sounds like she’s on helium,” Stephanie said. “People are just really relentlessly mean on the internet.”
However, Stephanie won’t let a little criticism get her down.
“That’s selfish of me to think everyone should like me,” Stephanie said.
Stephanie started teaching herself to play guitar at the age of 12 and started writing songs then too. She didn’t start performing until she was about 15.
Her older brother, Russell has been by her side from the beginning.
“It was my dad who bought her, her first guitar and taught her a few chords and she kind of ran with it from there,” Russell said.
Stephanie has participated in talent shows such as St. Joe’s Got Talent for the past three years. She now plays local gigs and hasn’t ventured into the Kansas City music scene yet.
Stephanie’s musical influences consist of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks. Her folk blended music is what gives her a “quirky” sound according to some Internet critics.
“(It’s) fine,” Stephanie said. “I can’t expect anything else. I didn’t try to be normal.”
Her mother can confirm that she has always been a quirky child.
“She’s been a funny child since she was little, a comedian. She’s doesn’t have too much pride to do that,” Julie said.
Stephanie loves writing music just as much as she loves performing.
“I have about fifty songs that I’ve written since I was about 12 and I have a couple of albums, just me recording, of the 23 songs,” Stephanie said. “I write the songs and then I think about the things I wrote and how it sounds and I’m like ‘Oh that’s how I feel.’ It’s like a backwards type of thing.”
With this much natural talent and a unique personality, Stephanie is bound to go places. In the meantime, she is still a star in St. Joseph.
Working at Lanham’s Music has given her fans an opportunity to get her autograph. One man, who bought about a $1,000 guitar, had Stephanie and her employer autograph it.
“I’m amazed at her composure,” Julie said. “How she handled it so maturely and sweetly. She’s very humble. She just likes to sing and write songs.”
The Hollywood episode will air at 7p.m. February 5 on FOX.