Fifteen-year-old Cameron Richard was born with a cleft palate, and for a while his parents thought he wouldn't be able to speak well let alone sing.
But after receiving the golden ticket to Hollywood last Thursday on the final season premiere of "American Idol," it was evident to the judges and viewers that Cameron has a golden voice as well.
"This season, I'm 15 finally and it's the first season I could (audition) and it's the last season of the show," he told the Courier and Daily Comet. "I wanted to take my chance while I had it."
The Raceland teen also recalled watching "American Idol" as a little kid when Carrie Underwood won the singing competition series.
"Ever since that season, I've always dreamed of being on the show and it's unbelievable that I actually have this opportunity," he said.
Thursday was the first time Cameron, his family and viewers got to see him and countless others audition for Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban.
"When we got to see that audition, tears ran down my eyes," Tina Richard said of her son's audition. "That's my kid."
What viewers saw on Thursday was actually the fourth round of auditions for the Central Lafourche High School student. All of the auditions took place in Little Rock, Ark., over the summer.
Cameron's parents, grandparents and cousin traveled to Little Rock with him.
"I'm so glad I got to bring my grandparents," Cameron said. "I know they're proud of me for everything, but I'm just so happy I can sing for them while I have them. It just can't get better than that."
The Richards have received an overflow of calls, texts, and social media messages about Cameron's audition.
"It's beyond words," Cameron's father Barry Richard said. "The phone was just blowing up. You try to do your work, but the phone just kept vibrating and ringing."
Even Cameron's school administrators and classmates acknowledged his audition.
"Today when I went to school, it was really different. A lot of people said 'congratulations, Cam' and that really means a lot," he said.
The Raceland teenager also said school administrators played video of his audition during the first hour of class and then one of his Youtube videos afterward.
"A lot of my close friends were like, 'good job,' and that is what keeps me humble," Cameron said. "I'm always going to be humble especially about things like this."
Before he performed Ed Sheeran's "Give Me Love" before the judges, Cameron bonded with Connick about beignets and his Louisiana accent.
"It was amazing meeting Harry Connick Jr. because he's from Louisiana, too," Richard said. "Nothing could've made me happier than that moment."
He also enjoyed meeting Lopez and Urban. Because he simply shook Lopez's hand, he said his schoolmates told him he should've given her a hug.
While the "American Idol" audition was Cameron's first nationally televised performance, he is no stranger to performing for large crowds. In 2013, he performed in a state competition held in the Cajundome in front of more than 12,000 people.
Eventually, he wants to perform to sold out crowds at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York. For right now, however, he and his parents are simply enjoying all the love and support.
"It's been a crazy ride and I hope it never ends," Cameron said.
To see Cameron's next appearance on "American Idol," tune into FOX on Thursday night.
This article was published in the Friday, January 8 edition of the Daily Comet.
Posted on Tue, January 12, 2016
by Kevinisha Walker, Daily Comet Staff Writer