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‘American Idol’ contestant hopeful of future career

April 27, 2019

PEMBROKE, N.C. (AP) — Despite not making it to the live stage on the televised hit singing show “American Idol,” Lumbee Tribe member Alexis Jones is positive about the experience and the chance to show off her culture on a national stage.

“You can be from the swamps of Robeson County,” Jones said. “You can go outside of the Robeson County borders and do great things and still come home and represent your people.”

It’s been a whirlwind of activity for the 23-year-old University of North Carolina at Wilmington student since she received her golden ticket to compete in Hollywood for a chance to make it as the reality show’s top singing talents in the country. This was Jones’ third season competing on the show, but her first time going to Hollywood.

She won the right after going through a series of auditions that led her to sing in front of celebrity judges Katie Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie in Idaho. She received three yes votes after singing “Spotlight” and “All I Ask” by Adele. The yes votes earned Jones a golden ticket to compete in the show’s grueling weeding out process known as “Hollywood Week,” which aired March 24 and March 25 on ABC.

Jones didn’t make the cut but was confident in her ability as an artist and excited about the doors that are now open.

“People were crying,” Jones said about contestants who like her didn’t survive the grueling week. “I was like, ‘It’s OK you guys. This is not the end of the road for me. It’s just the beginning.’

“I was not upset because I knew no one in that building has what I had,” she said. “I knew I was the best and there was nothing that could make me think otherwise.”

One of the things that set her apart in the competition is her culture, Jones said. She was Miss Lumbee in 2015 so she has a strong cultural connection to the Lumbee tribe.

During her Idaho audition in front the celebrities, Jones had the chance to talk about heritage when Perry asked about the wampum squash blossom necklace she was wearing. The necklace is a traditional American Indian design centered by an upside down crescent and accented by large flowering silver beads or squash blossoms.

Jones said she was surprised Perry knew about the native jewelry, and was happy for the platform to teach all three judges about the Lumbee people.

“It gave me the opportunity to talk about my Native American culture,” Jones said. “I talked about the fact that it was made of wampum and not turquoise, and I showed off the East Coast factor of my native people. I took those three celebrities to school that day.”

Despite not making it further on the show, Jones has strong backup plans for her future.

She currently is in her final semester at UNCW and is studying Environmental Science and minoring in Geospatial Science. She is the only female intern on a Metcon site at the school and owns a makeup business. She will graduate in May and is balancing her final exam load with her newfound fame.

“Everything is getting really crazy right now but everything is going to be OK,” Jones said. “I’m not going to lie and say I have everything together, but I’m taking it one day at a time.”

She held an autograph-signing event in Lumberton on Friday. Jones said she hopes her success will encourage people with similar aspirations to chase their dreams.

“Whatever demographic you come from or whatever racial background you have, you can always incorporate that into whatever you want to do,” Jones said.

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Information from: The Robesonian, http://www.robesonian.com

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