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January 30, 2014

Local singer gets ‘golden ticket’ on American Idol

Madison Heights resident is Hollywood-bound

By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer

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Abbie Lane Isham, 18, of Madison Heights, made it to the Hollywood rounds for American Idol XIII.

MADISON HEIGHTS — Abbie Lane Isham vividly remembers her audition before American Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr.

Well, most of the audition.

“There was a lot said, and I was nervous, so I can’t remember all of it,” said Abbie Lane, 18, of Madison Heights. “But I do remember them saying they did love my voice, but they wanted me to work with a vocal coach and kind of learn how to support my voice more, like more breath support.

“They also said I didn’t seem nervous, which seems crazy to me because I was nervous,” she said. “I was surprised when they said that!”

Her performance of “Syrup & Honey” by Duffy and “I’m Going Down” by Mary J. Blige, at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit in October, won Abbie Lane the coveted ‘golden ticket’ to the national auditions in Hollywood, airing Feb. 5-6 on FOX.

“It was crazy,” she said, describing the energy in the air when she emerged from the judges’ room with the golden ticket. “I had 10 of my family members there. I just ran up to them, and we had a big hug, and we all celebrated. It was really, really great. And after that, it was all about getting ready for Hollywood.”

Abbie Lane is one of only 40 finalists from Detroit, narrowed down from tens of thousands who turned out for a shot at superstardom when American Idol — now in its 13th season — returned to Detroit for the first time since the second season.

The process began with the “cattle call” at Ford Field in July, which was followed by two back-to-back producer auditions in September, and finally the audition before the celebrity judges in October. Abbie Lane, a 2013 graduate of Lamphere High, thought the timing was perfect, right at the crossroads between high school and college.

“American Idol has always been my favorite TV show,” she said. “I’ve always watched it and I’ve always dreamed of auditioning. Last year, I was watching, and just the people who made the top 40, I thought I could do that, and I could get on stage and sing. And so when they came to Detroit, I just knew it was meant to be.”

Abbie Lane has no prior formal training in singing, although she is now taking vocal lessons to hone her skills. She started singing during her sophomore year of high school, when she landed the lead role of Penny in the Lamphere Drama Club’s musical production of “Hairspray,” under the direction of Judy Lewis.

“When Mrs. Lewis gave me my role as Penny in ‘Hairspray,’ it was a turning point, and it helped me realize my love of singing and the stage,” Abbie Lane said.

Lewis said she’s not surprised how far Abbie Lane has come.

“She’s a fantastic student, and she’s a hard worker. She’s got ‘it’ — she’s special,” Lewis said. “Even when she was involved in some other (extracurricular) activity and she couldn’t be in a show herself, she’d still find a way to work on the show, working on the choreography, and she’d always be a leader.

“Her peers really respect her,” Lewis said. “The first number she choreographed, I think we had 80-90 kids in that show, and she was able to teach them all, and she did so with grace, kindness and maturity. She’s going to be something, for sure.”

Abbie Lane has also been very involved in the worship team at Woodside Bible Church in Troy, and she’s been in a number of high school talent shows, as well. She’s the oldest of three children, and her younger siblings have been her biggest cheerleaders, according to Abbe Lane’s mother, Cindy Isham.

“Her younger brother, a few years back, when he was like 10 or 11, begged her to try out for American Idol,” Cindy recalled. “And her younger sister is the one Abbie started singing for. For a long time, it was their secret that Abbie can sing. Now, Abbie sings all of the time.

“It’s her dream, and we want her to live out her dreams,” Cindy said. “Every girl dreams of that, but to be able to see it lived out and happening, it’s hard to get these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and so we want her to go for it. I think she’s ready for it — she knows how to handle herself, and she’s ready to work for it, and to learn, and to grow into a more experienced musician.”

Abbie Lane said one of her musical idols is Tori Kelly, who auditioned for American Idol during the ninth season. Kelly made it through to the Hollywood auditions but fell short of the top 24. But she didn’t let this deter her; she struck out on her own and became a huge sensation on YouTube. Now, she’s signed with Scooter Braun, the manager of Justin Bieber.

“I just love (Tori Kelly’s) music, and she writes her own songs,” Abbie Lane said. “She really inspires me.

“I’m just going to use this as a learning experience and do the best that I can,” she added. “If I get cut, I’m not going to be devastated. I can always come back. Last year’s winner, it was her fourth year auditioning. A lot of people have tried numerous times. So I’ll try to learn everything I can, watch what the judges say to everyone and how everyone acts. That way, if I get cut, I can always come back and be even better.”

At the Madison Heights City Council meeting Jan. 27, Councilmember Margene Scott said the whole town is rooting for Abbie Lane.

“She is a singer and a very beautiful lady, too. Lots of personality — she’s just magnetic,” Scott said. “I think the whole city should give her its full support.”

American Idol XIII’s “Hollywood or Home” episodes air Feb. 5-6 on FOX. You can follow Abbie Lane online at Abbie Lane’s Music on Facebook.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski at akozlowski@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1104.