‘American Idol’ is back, and La. is well-represented

Casting superstition aside, Megan Miller and Ben Boone hope Season 13 of Fox’s “American Idol” proves lucky for them.

Both Miller, of Ethel, and Boone, of Lafayette, traveled to Austin, Texas this summer for open auditions for the reality singing competition series. Boone’s audition will be part of Wednesday’s season premiere, while Miller will appear on Thursday’s show.

It was the second “Idol” audition for Miller, 23, who viewers may remember from last season as “the girl on crutches.” The recent LSU graduate had injured her leg in a motorcycle accident a few days prior, and chose to go through with final-round auditions in Baton Rouge before returning to the hospital for surgery.

“My mother and I flew to Austin, stayed for a few days, and I went through the audition process,” Miller said of the more recent tryouts. “It was nice to experience auditions in a different way, other than being on crutches and in pain, being distracted by all that. This year, I really got to enjoy the process, make a lot of friends, meet everyone, really focus on why I was there.”

Miller classifies her style as country-rock, “Carrie Underwood-esque but rough around the edges.”

In fact, Miller sang “Idol” Season 4 winner Underwood’s song, “Last Name,” in the audition, and also a self-described “weird version” of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

“It’s hard to remember (specifics of the audition) because I was nervous, you forget things,” Miller said.

“I think Keith (Urban, one of the judges) remembered me. It was awesome to meet Jennifer (Lopez, another judge). She was even more beautiful in person than she is on TV, and Harry (Connick Jr., a new judge), I had an instant connection with Harry because he’s from Louisiana, so I kind of felt at home when I walked into the audition.”

After being sent home during “Idol’s” Hollywood round of eliminations last season, Miller started a five-piece band, the Megan Miller Band, and between the band, and two acoustic duos she’s also a part of, she said she’s been performing every weekend.

Playing a lot in the Lafayette area for the last two years, singer-guitarist Boone said the local gigs gave him the confidence to audition for “Idol.”

The Jefferson Street Pub, New Orleans Daquiris and Walk-On’s are a few of his regular bookings.

“I felt comfortable performing because you know it’s not just about how you sing, it really is about how you perform, and how you present yourself,” Boone said from a ski trip in Colorado last week. “I got a few friends, took the weekend off and went to Austin.”

Boone describes his musical style as soulful pop-rock. “A little blues, a little funk, definitely a little Southern roots.”

Arriving at the audition site was a bit unnerving, Boone said.

“You see all these people that are trying out and it can be really intimidating when you see them,” he said. “You’ve got to just put that out of your mind, and just do what you know how to do. I really tried to go in the judges’ room with a lot of confidence.”

Boone sang “Too Close” by Alex Clare and “Come Together” by the Beatles.

“He (Harry Connick Jr.) said that he was going to hold it down for his Louisiana boys,” Boone said. “I think he appreciated the fact that I live in southern Louisiana.”

Boone, a chemical engineering major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said he watched “American Idol” a lot when he was younger, but not as much since starting college.

“I’ve kept up with who the winners were, and the really talented people who came out of it.”