Beluzo gets her golden ticket to Hollywood

March 25, 2018 | Payton North

Lauran Beluzo of East Longmeadow sang her way to a golden ticket to Hollywood on hit-TV show "American Idol."
Photo Credit: AMERICAN IDOL - NYC Auditions. (ABC/Eric Liebowitz) ELLE B (aka Lauran Beluzo (NYC) © 2017 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

EAST LONGMEADOW – It’s no secret that Western Mass is chock-full of talent, and East Longmeadow is no exception.  Twenty-one-year-old singer Lauran Beluzo was able to chat with Reminder Publications about her experience auditioning for the hit-TV show “American Idol,” and what it feels like to get the golden ticket to Hollywood.

Beluzo has been singing for as long as she can remember, “since the womb” she joked. She laughed as she shared stories of her preschool days where she would sit in the corner of the classroom and sing to herself and her friends.  In elementary school, she recalled boys yelling at her to stop singing as they rode down the streets of East Longmeadow on the school bus.  

At the age of six Beluzo joined the popular Western Mass singing group Dan Kane and Friends. Over several years Kane has been a distinguished advisor of hundreds of singers, offering lessons, singing camps and a spot in his singing group, where the troupe sings for patrons across the state.  

“He took me under his wing, he’s someone I look up to and has been a mentor for me,” Beluzo shared.

Though her parents don’t sing or play any instruments, Beluzo still has music flowing through her family.  Her 19-year-old twin sisters, Mary and Kaitlin, are singers as well.  Beluzo’s uncle is a guitar player for a band, and her grandfather, who has since passed, was a wedding singer.

“When I was little my Papa would sing Irish songs to us and he would be singing around the house, so I think it’s a mixture of a passion of music and being around my Papa,” Beluzo reflected. “He passed away when I was nine or so, but I remember him singing the old Irish songs.”

During her High School years, and still today, Beluzo sings at local restaurants; The Federal in Agawam, The Delaney House in Holyoke, The Log Cabin in Holyoke, Max’s Tavern in Springfield and new restaurant, Cima in Wilbraham, to name a few.

“I used to sing at Fusion [prior to its closing]. When I was 14, I went up to the owner and said, “Can I please sing here?” I’m pretty bold, I tell them who I am, I say “Hi, I’m Lauran Beluzo, I’m a singer, this is what I’ve done, this is my resume, if you can give me a chance that’d be great.” He gave me a chance with my friend Kristen Flanagan as a duo, we played all through high school every weekend Thursday, Friday and Saturday.”

Following her graduation from East Longmeadow High School, Beluzo attended Manhattan College for one year.  She quickly realized that she simply wasn’t happy there.

“I felt really lost because I wasn’t singing, I was like, okay, well I need to put myself out there and figure out a way to perform,” she said.

From there, Beluzo found herself on stage in New York City’s Apollo Theater-three times, to be exact.

“They had an amateur night and one night I went down, I tried out, sang “The Power of Love” by Celine Dion. Then I got in, I sang Whitney Houston, and I won,” she recalled. “After the first time, I got close with the producer and she invited me back.  The experience was such a blessing to be able to get that opportunity.”                                  

Since then, Beluzo says she’s realized she would like to be able to one day give back to others who are trying to be heard as a singer.

“Anything I can do to help kids, right now I vocal teach kids,” Beluzo explained.  “I worked as a camp councilor for kids with special needs, I even had a couple of blind kids, and they were phenomenal singers.”

Beluzo had a 15-month music contract under the name Elle B at Water Music Publishing, and notes that the experience taught her plenty about herself as a person, and as an artist.

“I walked into it as a singer, and I walked out of it as an artist and a singer-songwriter.  I built relationships and phenomenal friendships,” she said. “It was a hard time because I didn’t know who I was. I was really torn between different styles of who I thought I should be.”

“You’ve got to get through some hardships, I learned a lot.”

Currently on season 16 of the show, this wasn’t Beluzo’s first attempt at a spot on “American Idol.”  In fact, the popular saying, “third time’s a charm” is one that applies.  Beluzo auditioned for “American Idol Experience” in Disney World at the age of 16 and attempted again at 17.

“In the past when I was little I tried out for “America’s Got Talent,” I did “The X Factor” and I made it a couple rounds in when I was 13.  I did “The Voice” when I was 16,” she shared.
Now at age 21, Beluzo has finally received the golden ticket to Hollywood.

“I’m lucky enough to have been found on YouTube, they [American Idol] reached out to me. It was a dream come true.”

Though she can’t say exactly how many auditions she had to take part in before producers prior to meeting this years “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest and judges, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, Beluzo did say there could be up to five.

“There’s a good amount [of auditions], you’ve got your huge line of people, thousands and thousands, and then it goes into another round of producers, and another round,” she explained.

Regardless of her numerous preparatory auditions, Beluzo still felt the nerves of walking in front of the celebrity judges and showing them what she had to offer.

“At first I was like, ‘Okay Lauran, they’re real people, they’re wicked successful because they worked so hard, and they’re famous.’ I want to be Katy Perry’s best friend, she’s amazing, Luke is a doll and Lionel Richie is a legend.  Once I put that they’re real people in my brain, it was still super nerve wracking but it was so cool,” she said of her pre-audition prep.

Beluzo chose to sing Dusty Springfield’s song, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” for the star judges.  The song is one she knows by heart, as it was the first song she ever performed at age 11.

“At 11-years old I pretended to mimic Dusty Springfield’s emotions. I embodied the emotions she’s felt, and as I got older it became a different experience for me and the emotion that I was tapping into was my own,” she shared. “You really do let down your mask when you’re vulnerable with people singing a love song. It was a whole different experience, so I had to do something that I knew from the back of my hand that fulfilled my soul in every single way.”

In front of the judges and singing Springfield’s song, pop-singing judge Perry quickly cut her off and asked her to sing something else.  Beluzo changed tunes to Sam Smith’s, “Stay With Me.”

“I was like, oh no. Her and Luke were saying, “Hey, she can really sing,” Lionel looked like, “Eh.” Katy asked my background and I said I traveled a lot for shows, and Katy said she saw me in herself.  I thought, “Oh my god, this is the best compliment anyone can get.””

Perry continued on to tell Beluzo that she was looking for a singer who showed a strong work ethic, and she saw that in her.  Bryan shared that though he loved her voice, her confidence was something she needed to work on.  

“My confidence was never the best, it’s something I struggle with. When I sing, it’s my shield that helps me,” Beluzo said. “They [the judges] said, Your nerves are your worst enemy.’”

While she didn’t believe she was going to get a “yes” from all three judges, to Beluzo’s surprise, she did.

Emotions were brought back to the surface for Beluzo when she shared with Reminder Publications that she received the trademark golden ticket.  This was the first time publicly she had been able to discuss it.  

“It was phenomenal. I’m smiling right now just talking about it. I can’t even believe I’m talking about it,” she exclaimed. “It’s more than a dream come true. When I told my parents when I came out [of the audition room], you can’t even describe it with words; you can’t even describe how it feels. You’ve got to go out and fulfill your dream to understand what I felt in that room in Times Square.”

Though her experience on the show, Beluzo said she met many sincere, life-long friends.                             

“I’ve never seen such genuine, whole-hearted people. The whole “American Idol” team, the producers, everyone, they’re so genuine. It’s hard to find people who are authentic who really care about not just their job, but the people they’re working for,” she said. “I’m still friends with them, I still talk to the friends I met in New York, and that’s the best thing; collaborating with people on things that you do.”

Now home in East Longmeadow, Beluzo is already planning her move to California to keep chasing her dreams.  While she can’t share how far she makes it on “American Idol,” viewers must watch to find out, Beluzo said the show has taught her that she can be herself.

“Everyone’s very unique and no matter what happens or how far you go, everyone shares that same passion of music and singing,” Beluzo said. “This show is a great platform for people to express and show who they are.”

To root for Beluzo, tune into “American Idol” on the ABC Television Network on both Sunday’s and Monday’s at 8 p.m.


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