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'Idol' dreams: Local salon employee's voice may be her golden ticket to fame

Between answering phones and scheduling appointments at Jean Paul Salon and Spa in Stuyvesant Plaza, Melissa Sgambelluri is trying to make a career in music, and she may well be on her way, having recently earned a spot on one of the more popular shows on television reality talent contest American Idol."

Sgambelluri, 24, bested thousands of other singers to earn a chance to compete in Hollywood in November against some of the country's best young musical talent. The results of that competition have not yet aired.

But her journey to Hollywood began long before she ever stepped on the plane in November.

"Ever since I was a little girl, I sang everything," said Sgambelluri.

A regular performer around the Capital District, Sgambelluri has opened for former "American Idol" contestant Bo Bice at Northern Lights, and has performed at University at Albany's Parkfest in 2006 and the Park Playhouse in Washington Park.

Sgambelluri said she was not an avid watcher of "American Idol," but people were always telling her she should try out.

"I'll just give it a shot," she said, "Why not?"

Her first shot at "Idol" fame came at a New Jersey audition in August. She didn't make it through the preliminary rounds and never even had the chance to step foot in front of judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.

Those who know how talented Sgambelluri is " including her coworkers at the salon " knew she needed a second chance.

"We said, 'No, that's not acceptable " she's got a lot of talent," said Sgambelluri's manager, Kelly Wolfe, and they decided to do something about it.

After learning of another audition two weeks later in Memphis, Tenn., the staff at the salon set to work raising money to finance a second chance for Sgambelluri.

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