EXCLUSIVE: Idol Comes to Omaha; 3 Hopefuls Want to be Your Next Superstar

The American Idol auditions landed in Omaha Thursday night.
Siouxland News Reporter Beairshelle Edmé was there and has an inside look at the journey of three contestants from the region.

It takes a lot to be America's next idol.

You've got to have the personality, just take a look at Carrie Underwood's first audition for the show during Season 4.

You also have the style. In fact, Ryan Seacrest crowned Kelly Clarkson as a fashionista at her first audition for Season 1.

She wore a hand-made shirt stitched from vintage jeans and she admitted that if the auditions didn't pan out, she'd be a fashion designer.

Lucky for Kelly, she came out as the franchise's first winner and has since won multiple awards, including 3 Grammys.

But aside from style and personality, you definitely have to have the voice, which was proven by Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, who recently finished his tour with John Mayer.

Now, 3 contestants Siouxland News followed, Dani Heikkila, Kelly Marie Smith and Christopher Jones think they're your next superstar.

We first met 20-year-old Chris, from Lebanon, Missouri, at the first round of auditions back in August.

He made it back to Omaha again for round 2, but it's not his first time in this rodeo.

"I actually got food poisoning the night before this main round with the judges and uh the second time I did it I made it to Hollywood, I got it to the top 96 and then I got strep throat and so I got through three rounds of strep throat and then on the third time it just was not happening. It was - there was-the strep throat took me over... but now I'm back and I'm gonna have a flu shot and an antibiotic shot. I'm gonna have 10 different kinds of vitamins and I'm good," said the Idol hopeful.

Mom, Tammy Grady, says Chris doesn't need all that and that the talent's been brewing for years.

"Oh, Chris was singing 'You Are My Sunshine', not singing it, but humming it in his diapers before he could speak," said Grady.

But despite Grady's undying support for her son, this is the last chance for Chris to nail his audition.

The cost of voice lessons, traveling and makeovers has broken the bank.

For Chris, it's now or never, as she and her family waits for Chris' golden ticket on her birthday.

And Chris gives mom her present yet, a ticket to Hollywood.

"This right here means everything. It is my future, hopefully the rest of life, hopefully even my retiring... hopefully," said Chris, excited to take this new venture.

The Missouri singer is headed for the bright Hollywood lights, but there's another Midwesterner eying her own ticket to fame.

Kelly Marie Smith, a 19-year-old from Des Moines wants to bring back an old school feel to music and do it by winning American Idol.

"I like soulful music. I like it because I'm most comfortable with it and I think that it just feels so relaxing and calming and I really think the judges are going to feel that," said the teenager.

For Kelly, singing is a reciprocal relationship, where she's able to do what she loves and people are able to love what she sings.

Singing has become her outlet.

"Music to me means a form of expression, a way to express myself of who I am as a person.," she explained. "I want the judges to hear my voice. I want them to hear my interpretation of this song put into the form of my voice."

Smith's family believes that her voice and this song will be the first step towards greatness.

But soon after exiting the chambers, they're disappointed with the results.

"I didn't make it but that's ok. It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun," said Smith.

No golden ticket this time for this contestant, but practice makes perfect.

While Kelly may not be your next Idol, there's another Iowan, who Chris from earlier thinks has the goods.

"People that are in here today are really good- we even have a 16-year-old whose voice is out of this world," said Chris when asked about the talent and his competition.

Chris is talking about Dani Heikkila, a teenager from Newton, Iowa.

At 10-years-old, she was named FOX News' up and coming American Idol; 6 years later, she's here to prove it.

"Honestly, usually my nerves get the best of me, but for right now I'm more excited to pursue my dreams than be nervous about it," said Heikkila.

Dani told Siouxland News that this dream is more than music.

Her guitar and voice are key to inspiring and changing a generation.

And she wanted to do it her way, so the waitress bussed tables and sung at the restaurant to raise money for these Omaha auditions.

Mom said she's not surprised Dani's here.

"She has a powerful voice. She has always moved a room when she sings. I've always had faith in her, you just, never know if someone else is going to see what you see as a mom," said Renae Heikkila.

Mom's intuition is right. Dani comes out of the chambers a winner, living up to the title given to her years ago.

"That golden ticket was my, like, it was my boost for my career and I'm so happy I got that and I'm going to go for it," said the Hollywood-bound contestant.

2 out 3 contestants we followed are headed to Hollywood.

Will they make the cut for the top 24 this season?

Siouxland News will be watching to find out.

If you have a story you want to tell or an incident you think needs to be investigated, our reporter Beairshelle Edmé wants to hear about OR