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

Her coworkers raised close to $2,000, and sent Sgambelluri to Memphis to try again " this time with different results.

When Sgambelluri arrived in Memphis, she joined 16,000 other people who had showed up at the audition with the same dream.

After 13 hours of waiting, Sgambelluri was given 20 seconds to perform in front of the show's producers, eventually being sent on to see the judges, something she guessed only about 80 of the 16,000 got to do.

Standing there, getting ready to sing in front of three of America's most famous faces, was a surreal experience, said Sgambelluri.

"Throughout the whole audition, you feel like it wasn't happening, " she said.

Sgambelluri said she thinks waiting for several hours might have had a calming effect on her nerves.

"I thought I would be a wreck," she said, "but I was OK."

Sgambelluri's said she listens to a variety of music, from jazz to rhythm and blues, and is influenced by all genres.

"My CD collection is crazy," she said.

Sgambelluri said she had the chance to sing two songs in front of the judges, since the sarcastic, and sometimes cruel, Simon Cowell, wasn't overly impressed with Sgambelluri's first piece, a rendition of Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man."

Despite Cowell's disapproval, Abdul asked her to sing again.

For the second song, Sgambelluri said she chose George Gershwin's "Someone to Watch Over Me," earning "yes" votes from Abdul and Jackson, making Cowell's vote moot.

Despite the fact that Cowell disapproved, Sgambelluri said she appreciated his style because he would be rifling through papers, or looking away, making it a "challenge to get him interested."

After getting the nod of approval, Sgambelluri said, her mind went blank, and she even collided with a locked door on her way out of the audition room, prompting Jackson to inquire if she was all right.

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