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West Linn's rising star

Aubrey Cleland will join 'American Idol' tour this summer


by: LORI HALL - Aubrey Cleland, 19, of West Linn, will join the American Idol tour this summer. She met fans and signed autographs Monday at the Washington Square AT&T store.From the whirlwind of Hollywood and Las Vegas to the quiet comforts of West Linn, “American Idol” contestant Aubrey Cleland is happy to be home — for a short while at least.

Cleland, 19, returned home last week after winning the “fan save” to earn a place on the Fox TV show’s summer tour with the top 10 contestants. On Monday, she was at the AT&T store in Washington Square meeting fans and signing autographs.

“She’s a really good singer,” said 9-year-old Caroline Frisiras of Tigard, adding that she wanted her to win the show. Frisiras was in line with her mother to get Cleland’s autograph and a picture taken with her.

Eleven-year-old Gabi Shirley of Tigard also liked Cleland’s singing style and liked “how pretty she is.”by: LORI HALL - Aubrey Cleland signs photos of herself for two young fans Monday at the AT&T store in Washington Square.

This was Cleland’s third time competing on “American Idol,” having worked her way up from the top 100 to 11th place, just missing a spot in the top 10. Because of show rules, Cleland cannot try out again, so making the tour is the next best thing for her.

In a new twist this year, AT&T sponsored a tour fan save in which the sixth-place boy and girl performed in a sing-off and the audience chose who to put on tour this summer. It was announced March 21 that Cleland received more votes than Charlie Askew.

“I just didn’t want to give up on it,” Cleland said of auditioning for the show again this year. “Why not do it again and try one more time?”

Cleland said the show has a fairly grueling schedule with contestants having to be up and “camera ready” with hair, makeup and clothes all ready, typically by 7:30 a.m.

She said contestants get to pick their own songs as long as they are approved and then work every day with a pianist and a vocal coach. The coach then gives notes to the band that practices with contestants once in a studio before stage rehearsals.

“This band is unbelievable,” Cleland said. “They pick up on everything. They add a lot to the show.”

At dress rehearsal, the contestants would run through their performances in their outfits, including learning to walk in incredibly high heels.

“That was always hard for me,” Cleland admitted.

She said the biggest challenge for her was controlling her nerves, something she thinks hurt her in past competitions.

From the audience’s point of view, though, Cleland was cool, calm and collected during her performances.

“It was more nerve-racking for me than her,” Cleland’s father, Thane Cleland, said. “I was as nervous as could be.”

Thane Cleland said he was continually impressed by her poise under pressure, although she is naturally a “grounded, low-key” person. The judges also loved her, calling her a “current artist” who had “multiplatinum” record potential.

Contestants all stay in a hotel while on the show and spend all their free time together. Cleland said there was a lot of laughing, hanging out and eating.

“We all got so close. It’s kind of a stressful environment,” Cleland said of her fellow contestants. “They will be lifelong friends. They already feel like they’re family. ... It’s an amazing bonding experience.”

As for the judges, Cleland said her only interactions with them were on stage, but she took all of their critiques seriously.

“I really took to heart what they said,” she said, adding that Mariah Carey, one of the judges, is one of her own idols.

Her favorite moment on the show this year was winning the fan save because “it meant it wasn’t over yet.”

“We’re all so excited about what’s going on,” Thane Cleland said. “The tour will be a good opportunity to be seen and get exposure. You never know what it will lead to.”

Cleland is looking forward to touring with the other 10 contestants this summer, which includes up to 40 U.S. cities in two months, quite a change for someone who is used to having summers off and hanging out with friends.by: LORI HALL - Gabi Shirley, 11, of Tigard, gets her photo taken with Aubrey Cleland.

“I want to thank everyone in West Linn who supported me,” Cleland said. “I want to thank everyone who voted for me and believed in me.”

For now, though, Cleland is soaking up spending time with her friends and family and her dog, Bella.

“I missed my dog so much,” Cleland said.

Watching his daughter interact with fans and sign autographs on Monday, Thane Cleland said, “Her humbleness comes through. That makes me more proud than anything.”

“American Idol” has yet to set tour dates and cities, but keep an eye out because West Linn’s own “Idol” may be performing in Portland this summer.

Cleland is a 2011 Jesuit High School graduate and is currently enrolled at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., although she has been taking time off to compete on the show. She is studying communications.

Her mother, Renee Cleland, was raised in West Linn and her father was a Lake Oswego resident and 1982 Lakeridge High School graduate. Her younger brother, Ty Cleland, is a junior at West Linn High School.

Her grandparents are Dale and Rosemary Cleland, of Lake Oswego. Rosemary Cleland majored in trumpet in college and also plays the piano and organ. Dale Cleland was a music instructor in Lake Oswego schools for 26 years, plays clarinet and saxophone, and is currently the director of the Lake Oswego Millennium Concert Band.



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