From Lovettsville To Nashville: One Wolverine’s Journey To American Idol

Lillian Hackett recorded a few scratch tracks and learned about the process of recording music. Photo provided by Lillian Hackett.
Lillian Hackett recorded a few scratch tracks and learned about the process of recording music. Photo provided by Lillian Hackett.

Woodgrove junior Lillian Hackett has recently traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to audition for the famous singing competition, American Idol. The journey that led to this point is an inspiring one. It displays what it means to pursue a passion and explore the different opportunities that a talent can bring. 

Seventeen-year-old Lillian Hackett’s passion for creating music began at a young age. “My dad plays a little bit of guitar, so when I was ten I picked it up so I could play with him and learn from him. I kept growing my skills as a musician. It’s a very vibrant music scene where I’m being raised.” Hackett, raised in Lovettsville, Virginia since age four, has experienced support from local bands and musicians. When she first started performing, they would ask her to play in their set or during a set break. Even though she is only just getting started, Hackett has already experienced some pretty significant music career highlights. “Some highlights for me would be meeting and connecting with new people through music. Everything I do that’s music related always opens up a new door for me, so it is really cool to get to explore those doors.” Hackett participated in Battle of the Bands at Tally Ho Theater in downtown Leesburg, which gave her the opportunity to play on a big stage with an experienced sound crew. This experience prompted her to want to continue pursuing music. Her most common local gigs include performing at local wineries, breweries, farmers markets, and barn dances. 

“Sometimes different places reach out to me, which is cool, and then sometimes I reach out to them. It just depends, and it is different for each gig.”

Hackett’s music is influenced by genres such as New Americana or folk music. As a lover of the outdoors, she draws a lot of her inspiration for songwriting from nature. “With songwriting, I love that I can use it as an outlet for whatever I am feeling to write down my thoughts and turn it into a song.”

In August 2023, Hackett attended a concert where the opening act was someone who had previously gotten pretty far in a singing competition. “That night, I imagined myself in his position on that stage opening for one of my favorite bands. It inspired me to look up American Idol auditions, since I felt I had nothing to lose. When I looked up the audition dates the day after the concert, I realized that it was in two weeks, so I kind of did it on a whim. Everything just unfolded from there.”  

Her audition process was a live Zoom audition where she got placed into several different breakout rooms with different producers. “They told me I did really well and that they would email me my results in two or three weeks. The next day, they texted me and asked me to get on another zoom call with another set of producers after school. After I sang a couple songs to them, they told me I’d be auditioning in front of the celebrity judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry. They were recording my reaction, and I was not expecting it to happen that way at all.”

When Hackett found out she made it to the audition in front of the judges, she was very surprised and excited. “I think I blacked out a little and I don’t remember much. It didn’t feel real to me. It was so surreal.” Since she auditioned on a whim, Hackett and her family did not know what would come out of it, so they were all thrilled to hear that she would advance further into the competition. 

She was bound for her Nashville audition for American Idol in front of the celebrity judges. “I was originally supposed to go to LA for my audition, but thankfully, they told me I’d go to Nashville instead. This was great because I have a lot of family in Nashville who are very musically oriented. It was nice to be there with them.” She auditioned earlier this year and the show airs on February 18th, 2024. Hackett has upcoming plans to record her original song that she auditioned with on the show.

As a hard-working student balancing academics with a big passion for music, Hackett is learning to contemplate what the future holds for her.  “I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do in the future, and I don’t know if I want to do music or something academic related. I don’t want music to become a chore for me. That’s been a major debate in my head right now, but I am just taking it one step at a time, and we’ll see what happens!” The story of her music journey is inspiring, and for Lillian Hackett, this is only just the beginning.

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