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The next ‘American Idol’?

SANTA FE, N.M. — [photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000gaswe.vaqK4″ g_name=”American-Idol-comes-to-Santa-Fe-2015″ width=”600″ f_fullscreen=”t” bgtrans=”t” pho_credit=”iptc” twoup=”f” f_bbar=”t” f_bbarbig=”f” fsvis=”f” f_show_caption=”t” crop=”f” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_l=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”f” f_show_slidenum=”t” f_topbar=”f” f_show_watermark=”t” img_title=”casc” linkdest=”c” trans=”xfade” target=”_self” tbs=”5000″ f_link=”t” f_smooth=”f” f_mtrx=”t” f_ap=”t” f_up=”f” height=”400″ btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” ]SANTA FE – As the sun broke over the mountains, hundreds patiently waited for their chance at stardom.

The sounds of strumming guitars provided a soundtrack, while many others warmed up their voices and kept the water bottles close.

Auditions took place Friday for the 15th and final season of “American Idol” at the Santa Fe Railyards.

And 23-year-old Carlsbad resident Stephanie Kurmiski was first in line at 3 a.m. – with her sign in hand.

“I arrived in Santa Fe and went to the Jean Cocteau (Cinema) yesterday,” she said. “Then I got up and was first in line. It’s beautiful here, though it was a little cold.”

Kurmiski has watched “American Idol” for its entire run and dreamed of getting a chance to be on the show.

“Even if I don’t make it through, it’s a great opportunity,” she said. “It helps build up some confidence and puts me in a different situation.”

The arrival of the “American Idol” bus in the City Different marked the second time the show has come to New Mexico. Last July, the bus stopped in Old Town in Albuquerque.

A long line of participants wait their turn to tryout for “American Idol” on Friday in Santa Fe. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

A long line of participants wait their turn to tryout for “American Idol” on Friday in Santa Fe. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

“American Idol” debuted on the Fox network in 2002 and has had upward of 40 million viewers in some seasons. In fact, for eight seasons from 2003-04 to 2010-11, it was the highest-rated television show in the country.

The concept of the show is to find new solo recording artists, with the winners receiving a recording contract with a major label. The show has spawned such stars as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken. Some winners have earned as much as $1 million in their first year after becoming a winner.

The bus auditions have been around for only four years. During last season, the most notable find from the bus auditions was finalist Joey Cook.

Brian Robinson, a supervising producer, said he enjoys being part of the bus auditions, because it takes the TV show out to the fans. He’s hoping to find a few contestants from the bus auditions.

“It’s been a grassroots effort,” he said. “It gives people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to audition that chance.”

The “American Idol” auditions for the final season will visit 17 cities. Eleven of those are by bus, then six are open calls. The bus stops remaining are in Athens, Ga.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Oxford, Miss.

Live auditions begin in Denver on July 10.

The contestants who were successful Friday weren’t allowed to say whether they had moved on. They could only comment on their experience.

Robinson said there are plenty of surprises for the final season.

“The show has been part of American culture for a long time,” he said. “It’s a little bittersweet to begin this process for the last time.”

For 16-year-old Santa Fe resident Miriam Kass, “American Idol” has always been a part of her world. The singer-songwriter recorded her first album at age 9.

For seven years, she’s focused on getting her music career started and finally had the opportunity to audition for the competition.

She was singing an original song for her audition.

“I want to represent the type of artist I am,” she said. “Getting the chance to be here gives me the experience and some exposure to a bigger audience. Even if I don’t make it, I gave it a shot, and it’s really cool we have a chance to do that here.”

If you missed the opportunity to audition with the bus, those interested can audition online at americanidol.com/auditions.

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