Local teen makes it past first-round of American Idol auditions

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A local teen could be the next American Idol. The budding star made it past the first round of auditions for the 18th season of the show on Tuesday in Detroit.

Ethan Zydel is a 16-year-old junior at Whitmer High School. He took the day off school Tuesday and drove down with his dad to Detroit at 4:30 in the morning to audition for American Idol. Now, he's one step closer to his dream.

Ethan's passion for singing began when he was two.

"Ever since then I've sung every day of my life. I've not missed one day," said Ethan.

Ethan told 13abc he's always loved to watch American Idol on TV. You must be at least 15 to try out. He's 16 now, and has been prepping for months.

"I've dreamed of it for years," he said.

His audition song of choice: "A Song For You" by Ray Charles.

The judges told him, "We want you to go further in this competition. There's something about you that we like and they'd like to see more," Ethan shared.

Ethan's inspiration is Aretha Franklin, and he sang in her town, Motown, for the audition.

"Probably one of the best moments of my life," said Ethan.

Thousands waited in line for hours at the TCF Center for a shot at stardom.

"When they gave me my 'yes' they sent me over to what was called the winners circle and there was just me and one other person and I was so shocked," said Ethan.

Ethan feels validated and is thrilled for the chance to advance in the competition.

"I'm so excited to meet Lionel Richie!" Ethan said.

He's thankful for the support of his family, friends and Panther Nation. Especially the help from his choir director, Randy Baughman.

"I don't even know like how to put it in to words. He's done so much for me," said Ethan.

"We support each other...I think it's great. He's perfect for it...He's got all the ingredients," said Baughman.

And when he's not singing, he's still on stage, acting. Rehearsing for the upcoming school play, a comedy called "I Take This Man."

Ethan's next step is another audition the end of September with the executive producers. If he makes it past that, there's one more round before he actually appears on the show.