From playing a gig at a small venue in downtown Lakewood Ranch, to performing in front of some of the most famous judges on television, senior Sam Woolf is apparently on his way to stardom.
Woolf, 17, began performing at a restaurant called MacAllisters Grill & Tavern on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. Woolf would play in front of customers at the restaurant with only his guitar, a microphone and a tip jar.
In the past couple weeks, however, a lot has changed for the aspiring artist.
Most students at the River remember Woolf's performance of "Drops of Jupiter" by Train from the 2011 talent show. From that moment on, people knew Woolf had an amazing talent and word spread like wildfire: Pirate Nation was home to a musical prodigy.
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"It all came at once it seemed like. I've always wanted to pursue music as a career and always thought about auditioning for '(American) Idol,' but it's a not as easy as they make it seem on TV," Woolf said.
When Woolf went to play his normal gig Sept. 6 at MacAllisters, spectators noticed something different about his performance. This time Woolf was accompanied by a camera crew.
Just weeks before, Woolf auditioned for the popular television show, "American Idol," and was selected to compete on the show.
Waves of people swarmed MacAllisters to show their support and hear Woolf perform in person.
"There were about 80 people. It was really an awesome experience," Woolf said. "I love performing for people, especially when there is a big audience. This was a different experience though. It was like people came just to see me. I felt like it was my show and it was easy engaging with the audience." Woolf said.
From newspapers and other online sources, word spread about Woolf's "American Idol" quest.
"When I told my friends that I auditioned for American Idol, they were really excited for me. They were expecting that one day it would happen," Woolf said.
The new season of "American Idol" does not air until January when everyone in Manatee County can see a local high school student work to accomplish his goals.
For more: Go to youtube.com/samwoolfmusic or on Twitter @samwoolfmusic.