American Idol

Makayla Phillips talks about her American Idol audition

Makayla Phillips, 17, from Temecula, Calif., performs during her American Idol audition. (ABC Photo)

Makayla Phillips, 17, from Temecula, Calif., performs during her American Idol audition. (ABC Photo)


Makayla Phillips was just 15 when she appeared on America’s Got Talent back in 2015 and earned a golden buzzer for her performance of Demi Lovato’s “Warrior.”

Makayla didn’t win that season of AGT, but she’s 18 now and back on a national stage — as a contestant on Season 18 of American Idol.

And judging from the brilliant vocals she delivered when singing “Who’s Loving You” for Idol’s celebrity judges, we just might be seeing lots more of Makayla during Season 18.

Here’s what Makayla told Idol Chatter about her audition experience — and her brand new single.

Idol Chatter: How did you wind up auditioning for American Idol Season 18 (Season 3 on ABC) and what prompted you to do it this year?

Makayla: After the AGT experience I knew I needed to work on improving my performances and vocals, so I took that time between then and now to better my craft. I knew I would probably get some negative responses for coming to American Idol after I was on the other show, but I have never paid much attention to the negative!

This is my personal journey to fulfill my dreams and I felt it was the right time for me to audition for American Idol. So, I took the first step and submitted! American Idol was the first show I ever auditioned for when I was 14 and it had been a dream of mine to be on this show since I was very little. I still need to pinch myself that my dream is coming true!

Idol Chatter: Why did you choose “Who’s Loving You” for your audition song? What’s your performance history with that song (for instance, is it one you’ve performed often)?

Makayla: “Who’s Loving You” is a classic song, with moments that can really showcase what you can do with your voice, so it was an easy decision for me to pick that as my first audition song choice. It’s a song that has been one of my go-to’s since I started performing at open mic’s when I was around 10 years old.

Idol Chatter: What was that audition process like?

Makayla: The audition process is always a bit stressful because you’re putting yourself out there to actually be judged, and in this case, by established artists in the music industry who KNOW what they’re talking about! American Idol was one of the first auditions where I actually felt nervous! I knew I would be going up against extremely talented singers who deserve the chance just as much as I do.

Idol Chatter: Did having the America’s Got Talent experience behind you help at all?

Makayla: I was 15 when that happened and I learned so much! The experience of performing in front of millions of people on live television, I feel, will definitely help me on this one. I am not afraid to perform in front of large audiences, that’s for sure!

Idol Chatter: How do you think you’ve changed as a performer since you were on AGT, because you did very well on that show as well?

Makayla: People have a hard time accepting that I am almost 18 years old! It’s been a few years since AGT and I was 15 then! I am definitely more mature, I know myself better now as an artist and performer. I’ve been working with my vocal coach, Miss Nonie, and we both think my vocals have matured since then too. I also feel more confident in myself than ever and I believe going into a competition like this, confidence is not a bad thing!

Idol Chatter: And I noticed you just released a new single called “Fool Like You” and it sounds like a music video might follow. Can you tell me about that song/project? (Follow the link for Apple Music or check out the Spotify snippet below)

Makayla: I am hoping to release a music video for that soon! The process of songwriting is so therapeutic for me. I love being able to write down what I am feeling or thinking and those words can be put to a melody and turned into a song! The song “Fool Like You” was written about a boy, who is a FOOL, who makes bad choices, and even though I know he’s bad news, I keep going back to him. It was fun to write and work in the studio on something I came up with and I’ve loved all the positive feedback I am getting from it.”

Editor’s Note: American Idol will air a final audition episode Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC. Then Monday, it’s off to Hollywood for all the golden ticket recipients, including Makayla.

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