Macomb Township native sings her way into finals of ‘America’s Got Talent’

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published August 11, 2015

 Macomb Township native Alicia Michilli will appear on the Aug. 25 episode of “America’s Got Talent.”

Macomb Township native Alicia Michilli will appear on the Aug. 25 episode of “America’s Got Talent.”

Photo provided by Mascha Muenzesheimer

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Singing in front of Hollywood celebrity judges and a live audience on national television might cause most to falter, but that’s the type of pressure that Alicia Michilli has learned to embrace.

Michilli, a Macomb Township native and 2009 graduate from Eisenhower High School, is a finalist on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and will be performing live at Radio City Music Hall in New York City during the Aug. 25 show.

She currently resides in Nashville, where she frequently sings at local venues, not on her own, but with a large band alongside her. Performing on her own for the audition and judge rounds of “America’s Got Talent” took a bit of a leap of faith.

“I hadn’t been on a big stage in a long time, and it’s definitely a different experience to be on a large stage by yourself. I’m used to playing with a band, an 11-piece band at that,” Michilli said. “I like to do things that scare me because I think making yourself vulnerable gives you the opportunity to grow when you put yourself in different situations. You kind of get to see what you’re made of a little bit.”

Michilli has been seeing what she’s made of for several years now. She grew up being influenced by the musical taste of her parents, who enjoy Motown and soul music, and her idols include Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday.

In high school and at Macomb Community College, she participated in musical theater and choir programs. In 2011, after just two years of college, Michilli moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music.

Since moving to Nashville, she has spent most of her time writing and working on her own original music, but she also sings with the Music City Toppers, a band that performs weekly at a downtown entertainment and restaurant destination.

Her work in music caught the eye of a talent scout for “America’s Got Talent” this past spring, and by June she was auditioning in front of Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

“I had to go back to songwriter mode. I’ve been out of that a little bit, so I had to put myself back in those shoes,” Michilli said. “When you go play a show, you have people directly in front of you, but in a different way you’re playing with them, and when you’re in front of judges, it has a different vibe to it. That aspect of it is a little scary, but once I get up there and get into it, it kind of goes away a little bit.”

That wasn’t the first time Michilli had performed on a nationally televised show. Previously, Michilli also made it past the audition round of “American Idol,” but she turned down the trip to Los Angeles.

“I just felt for what I was trying to accomplish as an artist, I felt my next move was a little bit different than that,” Michilli said. “I’m not a competition-oriented person. I really believe that music for me is a team thing. I think with those shows, they kind of make it into something it’s not and put people against each other, when in reality the more people you help, the better you can be because you’re improving music.”

The difference in going for “America’s Got Talent,” Michilli said, was the variety of artists performing and the freedom she would have in her performances.

“It’s not just music — it’s a talent-based thing, so I just figured I would have more artistic freedom as far as being able to be the artist I’ve already created as far as my look and my sound. I feel like they took me as I am,” Michilli said. “I really wanted to just build off of what I had already accomplished myself.”

Following the successful June audition and July judge round, Michilli said that waiting and preparing for the next stage has been a little uneasy, but that usually leads to great results for her.

“I think being put in limbo has been a little hard, but it’s also good because it’s doing something that scares me, and being out of my comfort zone I can kind of say that I’ve done what I can do and I just have to let it come at me,” she said.

Michilli has been to New York City once, and that didn’t include a stop at Radio City. Being able to perform on that stage, she said, has already made her a winner no matter what happens in the competition.

“It’d be an incredible experience to win, but honestly I just really feel like being able to sing on that stage, regardless of what happens afterward, I know I’ve won beyond belief,” Michilli said. “Whatever happens after this is icing on the cupcake.”

Michilli hopes that her appearance on “America’s Got Talent” can jump-start a full-time career in music. She has released a five-song EP (extended play), and she hopes to produce a full-length album in addition to touring nationally.

Michilli’s next appearance will be live at 8 p.m. Aug. 25 on NBC. Her previous performances from the show, including her performance from the judge round that aired Aug. 4, can be found on Youtube by searching “Alicia Michilli America’s Got Talent.”

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