By Bryan Boggiano
School of Rock instructor and music director Cassie Ortiz has a golden reason to celebrate.
The 21-year-old singer successfully auditioned for American Idol’s 20th season, earning the golden ticket that advances her to Hollywood.
Ortiz works at the Coral Springs School of Rock location, where she gives vocal lessons and directs shows for students.
For Ortiz, her American Idol success story was a long time coming.
At eight, she began watching the show with her father and vividly remembered Tori Kelly on the show’s 9th season and being mesmerized by her powerful singing.
Ortiz once sang in the Fort Lauderdale Children’s Choir. At 12, she joined her own school’s theater program at Olsen Middle School, which she attributes most to her singing aspirations.
“That’s what pushed me into singing,” she said, “I realized that I have a decent voice.”
Ortiz then attended Palm Beach Central High School, where she pursued theater.
At this age, she also began auditioning for shows such as American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent, crediting her friends, and her own dreams, with her decision to audition.
“It was really inspiring to see them going after their dreams and being on there,” she said.
At 15, she auditioned multiple times for The Voice. At 16, she first auditioned for American Idol.
She estimates auditioning ten times, and each time she made it a little further in the process but could not make it to the final judge’s round.
Ortiz stopped auditioning at 18 to study business marketing and music technology at Florida Atlantic University.
In 2021, Ortiz auditioned one more time for American Idol. This time, she made it through each executive round and then in front of Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry in Nashville.
While Ortiz said she liked all three judges, she picked Richie as her favorite since he gave her the best advice, telling her to break out of her theater shell and find herself as an individual artist.
“It was really scary and nerve-racking [performing],” she said. ” I kind of blacked out during parts of it.”
The judges helped her calm down before her audition when she sang “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals.
Perry told Ortiz that her voice was big and that she wanted to hear something more emotional from Ortiz. She had three songs that she was prepared to do, but none she deemed were too emotional.
She ultimately decided to sing “All I Ask” by Adele.
This time, the judging process was a little different for Ortiz. While Bryan said no, Ortiz did have two supporters in her corner: Richie and Perry.
“I was just in awe,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been auditioning for these shows for so long and received so many no’s, so this gave me a feeling of validation.”
While Ortiz could not provide details on the rest of her American Idol journey, she did say that she will continue pursuing music in the future.
Currently living in Davie, she is working on putting a band together and recording an EP. She hopes to continue putting on shows and teaching the next generation of musicians while continuing her education.
But, Ortiz also remembered the up-and-coming singers and those like her who have faced several obstacles along the way, telling them not to give up.
“You just have to stick to it,” she said. “Don’t give up. Don’t let what anybody else has to say get in your way. You have to believe in yourself to persevere.”
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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