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S. Ozone woman gets flu, not fame, in ‘Idol’ tryout

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The South Ozone Park native was knocked out of a semi-final round of "American Idol" when she fell ill on a flight from New York to Hollywood in November."As soon as I got off the plane I was full-blown sick. And by that night I pretty much had no voice," the 28-year-old recalled in a recent phone interview. "If I didn't have the illness - I don't want to sound cocky - I would have definitely been in the top 12," she said. But instead, she made it to the top 75. Not bad considering that an estimated 100,000 hopefuls from across the nation tried out for the Fox reality competition show. Johnson, who auditioned among 20,000 wannabes at a tryout in Washington D.C., was among 193 contestants flown out to California for the final rounds. In an episode broadcast Feb. 15, viewers watched the 28-year-old overcome her throat problems to wow judges Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul with Aretha Franklin's "Baby Come to Me."Her steely determination came from years of struggling to make it in the music business. For a decade, she tried to break in with an all-girl R&B group called "Diversity," which she formed with a childhood pal. The dozens of demos they recorded failed to attract the attention of record companies. When the group folded, she went out on her own, taking the stage at the famous Apollo Theater on amateur night a few months ago. "Simon has nothing on the Apollo," she said referring to Cowell, the famously brusque and honest Idol judge. "If you can do the Apollo, you can do anything."Despite making it through the first day, Johnson was culled when the competition was winnowed to 44. "I'm not mad at the decision, I'm just mad at my luck," she said.Still, she said would go through the ordeal again in a heartbeat. But unfortunately, at 28, she will be too old for the competition next year. Knowing that a music career was a long shot anyway, Johnson, who works for Telstar doing marketing analysis, has been taking computer classes at Queensborough Community College. "Don't ever put your eggs in one basket," she said. "It's always a one in a million chance of making it, no matter how good you are."Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Updated 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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