Six young performers, who were thrust into the world of fans and fame as “American Idol” contestants, sat and talked about their personal goals, their fears and their faith with about 40 guests at the Radisson Hotel on Friday, June 20, before their show opened at the Grand Palace.

These six past Idol contestants will be performing through the end of June. A parade of Idol contestants will make up the “American Idol” show at the Grand Palace through Oct. 26, on Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

A crowd of Branson fans opened their arms Friday night to the contestants they had cheered on during each American Idol season.

The real idols are just that … real.

Promoter Steve Drummond said he wanted to bring something young, something fresh to Branson. He promised the small gathering they were in for a fantastic show. Then he let them all talk to each other.

How did being on American Idol change your life?

“I just want to share my heart with the world. I’m honored to be on the show with them,” RJ Helton, who made it to the top five in the first season said about the other Idol contestants.

“It opened so many doors — I’m here in Branson about to open a show with other Idol contestants,” season six contestant Haley Scarnato said. “It’s really been a blessing. It opened so many doors. We get to perform now, and people will listen to me.”

When the six of them started talking about blessings, they all wanted to share.

Vonzell Solomon, a season four contestant, placed behind third runner-up Bo Bice and winner Carrie Underwood.

“We were like a family back stage,” she said. “We were all going through the same things. When we got on the tour, the stress factor was gone, so it was like let’s have a good time.”

She added that getting together with others from different seasons was easy — like they already knew each other.

“We all had stuff in common and could get together and talk about it,” she said.

Brandon Rogers, a season six contestant, said the first show after Idol, they could all relax.

Vonzell said they would all get together and pray.

RJ said he’d been instructed not to talk about religion, politics, but when a fan asked how he got through the audition he said, “I prayed.”

Carmen Rasmusen, who was originally cut from the top 200, but later given a second chance on the Wild Card show along with Clay Aiken, commented that coming to Branson, they felt welcomed.

She announced Friday to the group of fans and media that she and her husband are expecting a baby around Christmas Eve.

“Now we’re able to open up and talk about (God),” she said.

Scott Savol, a top five performer in season four, said he never went looking for fame. He simply wanted to do what he loved best — sing and perform for others.

“When I let God do it, it turns out better than when I do it,” he told the group.

Rasmusen said the best thing about being on the show was to have someone come up to her and say, “My daughter looks up to you.”

“That has meant more to me than any amount of money or fame — to know that maybe I’ve influenced someone in the way that I’ve lived my life. Some people might say they don’t want to be in an example, but like it or not, we are in the spotlight. To me that’s the neatest thing,” she said.

Information & Image courtesy of Branson Daily News