Even if you've seen every American Idol audition episode this season, you may not know that a local contestant made it to Hollywood.
His name is Dan Wood, and he is so psyched about getting his golden ticket. He's known as the "Singing Server" at Circles Restaurant in Apollo Beach.
And Wednesday night, the whole world will get a taste of what he's dishing out. He got Mariah Carey's vote, and said that alone was incredible.
We caught up with Wood on Tuesday as he was serving up supper with a song, singing a soulful 'Happy Birthday' to a Riverview couple who was dining at Circles. It was a sweet surprise for Warren and Patti Finch.
"He's our local celebrity," said Warren Finch.
"He came into the restaurant, we heard him singing to another table and we inquired, so we were fortunate enough for him to come back over to us," said Patti Finch.
Wood is going to Hollywood, making the cut out of more than 100,000 singers. He auditioned in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"When I first walked on that stage I was just, I was completely starstruck," Wood said, smiling.
He gave it his all and had no time to be afraid.
"Actually I was the second one to go that day," said Wood. "So it is a little intimidating, but at the same time, if you can throw in your own kind of style, you don't have to hit those high, powerful notes, as long as you sing with good emotion, good control."
And conviction he said. It didn't hurt too, that he flat-out flirted with his personal idol Mariah Carey.
"I definitely just locked eyes on Mariah. Mariah was like my golden ticket all along, all I had to do was lock on her and make her believe in me, and I felt like the rest of the judges would follow along," Wood said. "So they knew I was trying to get my flirt on. I knew not to do a diva song, no Aretha Franklin or anything like that. I did do Superstition as one of my songs, which was kind of risky because she loves them pipes."
So the USF senior threw down his own version of singer Alex Clare's song, "Too Close."
"Well, I was just like, 'it feels like I am just too close to love you'," sang Wood to our camera. "And I just looked at her with these passionate eyes."
The strategy worked and they all gave him their blessing.
"She's [Mariah Carey] like, Dan, I think you have a beautiful voice and you're so sweet too," Wood recalled. "Definitely a yes from me, that's all I needed to hear, once I heard that, I'm like, Oh my God! I did see like Nikki Minaj's eyes kind of roll a little bit."
The whole audition lasted all of 45 seconds.
"Up there, got some Jordan air," laughed Wood recounting how high he jumped after landing his golden ticket. "Oh, when I got that golden ticket, all I could explain was just straight adrenaline, like I was going crazy inside!"
He credits his grandmother Wanda Chimiak for his love of music.
Watch for Dan Wood Wednesday night as Hollywood week begins at 8 pm on FOX 13.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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