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Business Student Eyes Big Break on ‘American Idol’

Aspiring Singer Nicole Hayek Wins N.H. Competition, Advances to National Stage

Nicole Hayek holds her Silver Ticket after winning NH Idol Photo by courtesy
Senior business student Nicole Hayek holds her "Silver Ticket" after winning New Hampshire Idol and advancing to the national "American Idol" auditions in Louisville, Ky.

By Ed Brennen

The next “American Idol” may be on campus at this very moment.

Aspiring singer and musician Nicole Hayek, a senior in the Manning School of Business, recently auditioned for the reality show’s executive producers in Louisville, Ky.

Hayek, from Salem, N.H., advanced to the national round of auditions after winning the “New Hampshire Idol” competition in mid-October.

“It’s so exciting. It’s all really surreal,” says Hayek, who is not allowed to reveal how she did in the executive producer round on Day 1 in Kentucky. She was hoping to advance to the following day’s auditions for celebrity judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan – where she’d have a shot at earning a “Golden Ticket” to the show’s final rounds in Los Angeles.

It won’t be known just how far Hayek advanced until the new season of “American Idol” airs on ABC early next year.

“No matter what happens, this has been really helpful for my career,” says Hayek, a business administration major with concentrations in marketing and management. “It’s great to get out there a little more. This is the push I’d been hoping for.”
Nicole Hayek sings during the Manning School's Days of Giving Photo by Ed Brennen
Nicole Hayek performs during a "Days of Giving" event at the Pulichino Tong Business Center last spring.

Growing up in a large Lebanese family, Hayek began singing and playing piano at an early age. She’s currently in a band with her older sister, Christine, and River Hawk fans may recognize her from her occasional national anthem performances before sporting events. 

Hayek, 21, had auditioned for “American Idol” twice before in the Boston area, but this is the farthest she’s advanced. She also auditioned for “The X Factor” when she was 16.

“In the past, I've gotten so nervous,” says Hayek, who sang “Worth It” by up-and-coming country singer Danielle Bradbery at her auditions. “This time, I was really calm. I was more excited than anything.”

Hayek says positive thinking helped her win the “Silver Ticket” at the New Hampshire auditions in Manchester.

“I kept telling myself I could make it,” she says. “One of the judges said they could feel the positivity just meeting me.”

Hayek had family support in Kentucky, with her mom, sister and aunt joining her on the trip. She also was accompanied by a TV crew from WMUR, which hosted the “New Hampshire Idol” competition.

“I’m really thankful for the opportunity WMUR has given me,” says Hayek, whose music can be found on Instagram (@nicolehayekmusic) and Facebook (@nicolehayekmusic).

Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the long-running singing competition show moved from the Fox network to ABC last year. A premiere date has yet to be set for the 2018-19 season.