In some ways, Thia Megia and Naima Adedapo are exact opposites.
One is barely 16; the other has five children and step-children. One is the daughter of Filipino immigrants; the other, many generations American, is deeply schooled in African culture.
What they have in common, however, is that both were blitzed Thursday by this male-dominated year of "American Idol." Here's the story I sent to papers today:
By MIKE HUGHES
In an “American Idol” year of male
domination, the departing females can only shrug.
“More than 50 percent of the audience
is teen girls,” Naima Adeldapo said. “And when they get a crush,
we are done.”
On Thursday, she and Thia Megia were
sent home. That makes four females ousted so far; the only time a guy
(Casey Abrams) was voted out, the judges used their only save to keep
This time, voters ousted opposites in
one way: Megia – less than three months past her 16th
birthday – was the show's youngest finalist ever. Adedapo is 26;
“I've been the mother figure,” she said.
She has ample experience at that.
Adedapo, married to a reggae singer, has two young children and three
older step-children; she's also spent decades singing, dancing and
watching her mom perform.
Still, don't assume the opposite about
Megia. She's only 16, but she's been performing – big-time, big
crowds – for a decade.
By 13, she had sung the National Anthem
for the San Francisco 49ers, the Giants and Stanford University. By
now? “I've lost count,” she said.
For her, “Idol” was just the
everyday scary. “I usually go from extremely nervous to show mode.”
All of this started at a party when she
was 5, she said. “I got up on an old coffee table in my little pink
dress and started singing for my relatives. That's when I realized
that I wanted to perform.”
Within a year, she had a voice teacher
and she was singing two Britney Spears songs at the start of a
concert by Filipino star Rey Valera. Much more has followed,
including TV – “Showtime at the Apollo” and reaching the top 40
of “America's Got Talent.”
Megia is an old pro, someone who has
been on her own (studying at home via California Virtual Academy) for
her teens. On “Idol,” however, the school-age contestants have to
spend three hours a day in a classroom. “We didn't really get
enough rehearsal time, (but) it was like an escape for us, being away
from the stress.”
Adedapo, by comparison, had plenty of
time for her favorite activity. “Shopping!” she said. “You get
to go out and do the accessorizing …. and that's fun.”
She comes up with the basic ideas for
her African-style clothes and has them made by a dressmaker from
Chicago, where her performing roots are.
In Chicago, her great-grandmother had a
theater group, her father became a theater professor and her mother
was a storyteller. “She would bring me along and have me be part of
They moved to Milwaukee, where her mom
is a jazz singer and Adedapo is – well, everything. She sings in
her husband's reggae group and in her own bands; she has a dance
degree and performs in African-style troupes and more. “I know all
forms of dance; I could have added some ballet.”
The judges liked her style and zest,
but that wasn't enough in this guy-dominated year. The female total
has gone from seven to three; the males stay at six.
There was one other factor for Adedapo,
whose jazzy style may have appealed to older voters.
“My audience is not necessarily
tech-savvy,” she said. “They would go, 'I voted for you three
times.' I'm thinking, 'You could have done 500.'”