Injoy Fountain had to fight for the right to show her Wichita pride.
At a recent “American Idol” audition, Fountain sported a “Wichita Made” T-shirt (coincidentally made here by Tevin Jacques of Space Station).
The producers told her no logos were allowed, but she insisted: “It just says Wichita,” she told them.
Fountain, 28, was eventually allowed to go into her audition, where she sang three songs for the judging panel of reports} Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.
She didn’t make the cut, but was interviewed on camera extensively – leading her to wonder, will she or won’t she eventually appear on the series?
Fountain, who recently moved to Los Angeles, hopes at least a snippet of her audition makes it to the air, but was grateful for the experience either way, she said.
“You never know what could happen,” she said.
Fountain is a Wichita native and 2010 graduate of New York’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy. She attended Collegiate and East High, and has done professional theater locally with Music Theatre Wichita and the Crown Uptown – as well as various regional theaters and New York gigs.
She lived in New York City for the majority of her professional career before returning to Wichita briefly last year.
She picked up a gig with Sound Advice, DJing for karaoke nights at Emerson Biggins’ Old Town and east locations – in addition to teaching private voice lessons.
Then “American Idol” came to audition in Tulsa last September.
One of her voice students wanted to audition, and she was encouraged to audition as well.
She made it through the first round of auditions, then had to wait a couple months to audition for the judges in California. In the meantime, she picked up a gig to perform “Rent” with a company in Aruba, she said.
That fateful day in California was long and hot: From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., there was “no AC in the room of like 100 people,” she said.
“I think they did it on purpose to see who could last the longest,” Fountain said. “It was a crazy, chaotic day.”
When it was her turn to sing for the judges, she performed “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles.
They were “on the fence” about her, so they asked for another, she said. And another.
“I don’t think many people get three chances to sing in front of these judges,” Fountain said. “To be completely honest, at that time I was a little sad that they weren’t just like, ‘Take me to Hollywood right away!’
“My confidence was shifting, but I was battling it and trying to do what they asked.”
Fountain had a song she had been preparing: “I Kissed a Girl,” by reports} Katy Perry.
But to sing it in front of Perry herself?
“The producers asked me if I was prepared for that, and I thought I might as well take a risk,” she said. “It was so nerve-wracking, but they liked it. She said she liked when some people do her songs differently than she does, because I kind of slowed it down and made it my own.”
Bryan gave her a yes, but Perry and Richie both told her no, Fountain said.
“They just said basically that they don’t know my identity and they didn’t think I was right for ‘American Idol,’ but I should try Broadway,” she said. “They didn’t know I’m pursuing that anyway.”
The California experience grew on her, as she moved to Los Angeles shortly after her audition.
“I left New York because I wanted a solid foundation, and I did think about coming to Wichita, but I’m still young and California is probably really going to be where I need to be right now,” she said. “You’ve just got to keep putting yourself out there and hope to God something bites. It’s the hustle and bustle of showbiz.”
The waiting game
The reboot of “American Idol” premiered on ABC on March 11.
So far, she’s appeared in a B-roll clip for a few brief seconds, but none of her interview clips or audition tapes have been featured on the show.
She has no idea when or if the show will ever air the videos, she said.
In the meantime, she said the support and encouragement she’s received from Wichita and other places has been impressive.
“If it wasn’t for Wichita, I really don’t think I would be here,” Fountain said of her career. “Growing up in Wichita, it’s just a sense of community, especially with the arts. There are so many options for kids to do things, … flourish and just be who they want to be.”