Two Corpus Christi men are singing for the title of American Idol in the show's 13th season. Justin Fira, 25, and David Kearney, 24, made their national debuts last week when their Austin auditions in front of judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. aired during the season premiere.
Fira said he's auditioned for the show before, and worked hard to make it to Hollywood this time by performing anywhere he could to build confidence.
"The experience of not making it definitely pushed me," Fira said. "I just want to keep consistent and be persistent with my music."
Fira said he has been singing since he was 4 or 5 years old. The Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi kinesiology major performs solo and with the band Kinda Smooth at open mic nights and weddings.
He would often sing and play guitar during his downtime while he worked as a valet at Christus Spohn Hospital Shoreline.
One of the hospital's employees heard him and said he should try out for American Idol.
"She pushed me to give it a shot, because I hadn't really watched the show before or knew how it worked," Fira said. "It was as if God has sent this lady to me to help me."
Fira writes his own music, and said he won't let go of his dream.
"This is more than a hobby," Fira said. "It's undeniable that this is my passion. I won't stop until I'm happy and can financially support myself through music."
Kearney said a strong feeling compelled him to audition.
"I was in my car and driving, and I knew the auditions were coming up next," Kearney said. "God pushed me to do it, and so I just went. Luckily everything fell into place."
Kearney grew up singing in the choir at Cathedral of the Palms, where he met his D&S band mate Shae Watson.
The two formed a band when they were 15, and Kearney has performed locally for three years, he said.
"At first I said no to being in a band, because people in church said I had a nice voice, but people outside of church might not feel that way," Kearney said. "Then I asked him to play guitar so we could do Corpus Christi Idol. That's when it all started. We winged it, but it turned out so awesome."
The duo made it to Vegas for seasons seven and eight of America's Got Talent, but were cut before the live shows.
"If anything I learned to keep pursuing my dream and get myself out there," Kearney said. "Anything builds up your portfolio, and the exposure helped us book more gigs."
Kearney said he's been singing for as long as he can remember, and his parents are his inspiration for pursuing a musical career.
"I love to sing, and I believe that God gives us talents and gifts for a reason," Kearney said. "It's easy for people to relate to music, and I feel happy making that connection with them. That's when I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to do."
Auditions continue through Jan. 30. Hollywood week starts Feb. 5 on FOX.
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Original headline: Two Corpus Christi men receive golden tickets to Hollywood for American Idol
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