Two Middle Tennesseans strike chord with American Idol judges, advance to top 24

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two Middle Tennesseans have made it one step closer to becoming America’s next singing sensation on American Idol.

Columbia’s own Cassandra Coleman and Franklin’s Hunter Metts advanced to the top 24 performers of the competition.

Cassandra Coleman is a barista at the Buckhead Coffeehouse in Columbia. She said this has been one of the best experiences of her life.

“I am feeling really grateful, I feel like now is really crunch time. I want to prove that I belong to be here. Now is time to start really working hard and focusing to me.. the competition,” said Coleman.

Metts was a software engineer for the last two years and said the support from Franklin has been heartwarming.

“It’s been really cool. It feels like you have an entire city on your team. It’s something that is really special,” said Metts.

Katy Perry, a judge on the show, compared Coleman to English singer Florence Welch.

“That was huge to me. I love Florence. To me she embodies so much of what I also want to embody for music. I love just woodsy, ethereal and almost like fairly type of feels and she is like that. She’s just so graceful too. To be compared to her was an honor, ” explained Coleman.

Metts told News 2 both of his parents had moved to the Nashville area to do music.

“I saw the way it panned out for them, and it didn’t pan out very well. It’s been a big financial struggle. I decided I don’t want to chase that dream, it’s not worth it. I ended up going to Nashville Software School, it’s like a trade school. I ended up gathering that skill and the last two years I’ve been doing software development or software engineering. This opportunity just kind of came at what felt like the right moment for me, so I decided to take that chance,” explained Metts.

Coleman most recently performed ‘Running with the Wolves’ by Aurora for the judges.

“I was still quite nervous. A couple days before the performance we had to finalize our song choice. I had a totally different song picked out. I was going to bed and I texted one of the producers and I said I don’t know.. it just doesn’t feel right. I feel like I should do a different song. I’m getting the feeling I should do this song by Aurora, she is one of my favorite artists. I feel like this song specifically is very freeing,” said Coleman.

Coleman changed her song and told News 2 she made the right choice.

“It just felt right when I practiced it with the band. I started crying because it was just so beautiful. I wish everyone could have been there in person because that band is just phenomenal,” said Coleman.

Coleman said choosing a song has been the most difficult aspect of the competition thus far.

“I can’t even tell you the amount of hours I’ve spent in front of my laptop and my piano playing song after song after song and scouring through 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s everything that I can find. That to me has been the biggest struggle because it is important. What you are communicating lyrically is important and can you pull off the song? Can you pull off the stage presence for it? So, there are a lot of factors that go into that,” said Coleman.

Metts told News 2 the nerves and listening to other performers is the toughest part so far.

“The fact that you have to sit through everyone’s performances! You’re already nervous for yourself and then you have these incredible voices, just person after person.. who is genuinely, sincerely amazing. It just gets in your head and really plays those mind games. Those are the two hardest parts, those nerves and seeing everyone else crush it,” explained Metts.

Coleman described her style as a mix of Enya and Stevie Nicks. She said the support from Middle Tennessee has been overwhelming.

“I knew that Columbia would step up… because I knew they would support anyone, but when it actually happened and I started getting that outpouring of love it was just insane. I would go to the park and people would recognize who I was or the grocery store and everyone said we love you, we support you! I had some people bring me little golden ticket cookies. The mayor also posted about me on Instagram and stuff. So.. everyone has been so loving and I knew that they would be and just another reason why I love my town!,” said Coleman.

Metts described himself as more of an Indie artist.

“An indie folk or indie pop artist. A little more of the grassroots sound but also hopefully with enough of an independent feel or alternative feel. So, it’s something fresh and something not everyone has heard before,” said Metts.

Coleman’s next performance is Sunday night with live voting. Coleman’s future in the competition is now in America’s hands.

“I’m really excited and for the public to see my fellow contestant’s performances, it was so much fun to sit there and watch. It was like you got to be at a concert again,” Coleman said.

Metts’ next performance will be Monday night at 7 p.m.

“It’s a celebrity duet round and also a solo song. I am hoping to continue the indie folk scene and also do something really special with a celebrity. Voting starts this week too, so if you guys feel I am deserving of your vote, please vote for me,” said Metts.

You can watch both Coleman and Metts perform on WKRN News 2.

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