Newsday caught up with former American Idol contestant Christian Guardino, to discuss his time on the show and how it made him grow as an artist.  Credit: Howard Simmons

Christian Guardino grew up watching “American Idol” from his home in Patchogue since he was two years old. This year the 22-year-old singer made it to the No. 7 spot in the singing competition and became one of the breakout stars from the show’s 20th anniversary season. But Guardino is not the only Long Islander to make it on the longrunning musical competiton.

Besides Guardino, 12 other local singers have appeared on the program over the years. Here are their stories:

JOSEPH MURENA

Joseph Murena of Smithtown appeared on "Idol" in 2005.

Joseph Murena of Smithtown appeared on "Idol" in 2005. Credit: FOX

SEASON 4 (2005)

MADE IT TO Top 18

GREW UP IN Smithtown

REMEMBERED FOR Crooning love ballads like covers of “How am I Supposed to Live Without You?” by Michael Bolton and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt.

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Murena put together his own band The Murena Project and even starred in an Off-Broadway play, “My Big Gay Italian Funeral.” Today he works as a New York State officer for the Supreme Court and plays on the side in a cover band called It’s Complicated.

“I wasn’t out at the time when I was on the show. It wasn’t something that was discussed back then. But, things have changed so much,” says Murena, 43. “I’m happy these kids don’t have to deal with that these days.”

KEVIN COVAIS

Kevin Covais at the "American Idol" Semi-Finalists Party at Cinespace...

Kevin Covais at the "American Idol" Semi-Finalists Party at Cinespace in 2006 in Hollywood, California. Credit: Getty Images/Stephen Shugerman

SEASON 5 (2006)

MADE IT TO No. 11

GREW UP IN Levittown

REMEMBERED FOR Singing ballads like “When I Fall in Love” and his youthful appearance earning him the nickname “Chicken Little.”

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Covais made a left turn by pursuing an acting career, landing supporting roles in TV shows like “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “The Rookie,” “This Is Us” and “Lucifer.”

“I was a 16-year-old kid who knew nothing about the industry. Because of ‘American Idol’ I met so many amazing people and made lifelong friendships from the show,” says Covais, 33. “ ‘Idol’ created an opportunity for me and I’m forever grateful. It helped me grow up.”

JARED COTTER

Jared Cotter performs in front of the judges in 2007....

Jared Cotter performs in front of the judges in 2007.

Credit: FOX/Frank Micelotta

SEASON 6 (2007)

MADE IT TO No. 13

GREW UP IN Coram

REMEMBERED FOR Singing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” a performance he dedicated to his parents.

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Cotter went on to do some hosting on Fuse TV and MSG Varsity before becoming a successful songwriter and producer. He co-wrote hit singles for Jay Sean and Lil Wayne (“Down”) plus David Guetta, Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj (“Where Them Girls At”).

“Before auditioning for ‘American Idol,’ I was getting frustrated with music because I wasn’t making it. I called my mother in Florida and told her that I think it’s time that I throw in the towel. She was like, ‘I hear there’s an audition for 'American Idol' tomorrow so why don’t you wait a day.’ So I went to the audition and made it through,” says Cotter, 40. “ ‘Idol’ was the foundation for the rest of my career. Everything stemmed from there.”

JACKIE TOHN

Jackie Tohn at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "CHiPS"...

Jackie Tohn at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "CHiPS" at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 20, 2017 in Hollywood, California.  Credit: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

SEASON 8 (2009)

MADE IT TO Top 36

GREW UP IN Oceanside

REMEMBERED FOR Singing and playing guitar on an indie rock version of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Tohn spent years touring but then got into acting by appearing in four seasons on the Netflix series, “Glow” as well as creating, executive producing and co-starring the children’s animated show, “Do, Re & Mi” with Kristen Bell for Amazon. She also co-stars with Bobby Cannavale and Bill Burr in the upcoming film, “Old Dads.” 

“ ‘Idol’ was completely magical and wrapped in a bow from my first audition to them televising every single step of the way to Paula Abdul mentioning me on ‘The Tonight Show’ to Jay Leno,” says Tohn. “It was an absolute dream. But, I was gutted to get eliminated so promptly after what felt like such a charmed journey.”

ROBBIE ROSEN

"American Idol" 2011 contestant Robbie Rosen arrives at Idol Prom:...

"American Idol" 2011 contestant Robbie Rosen arrives at Idol Prom: The "American Idol" Season Ten Top 24 Debut event at the Roosevelt Hotel  in Hollywood, California. Credit: Getty Images/Michael Tullberg

SEASON 10 (2011)

MADE IT TO Top 16

GREW UP IN Merrick

REMEMBERED FOR After singing Elton John’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” on Wild Card night to massive applause, Rosen was shockingly eliminated causing Rolling Stone to write an article titled, “Robbie Got Robbed.”

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Rosen privately teaches songwriting, piano and vocals, as well as conducting classes on music business and songwriting at Nassau Community College. He also continues his solo career releasing over 50 singles this year alone.

“The experience was life changing,” says Rosen, 28. “Being surrounded by such passionate and talented music people with the same work ethic kept me on my toes and challenged me for sure.” 

JAX

Jax attends the "American Idol" XIV Grand Finale event at...

Jax attends the "American Idol" XIV Grand Finale event at the Dolby Theatre on May 13, 2015 in Hollywood, California.  Credit: Getty Images/Jason Kempin

SEASON 14 (2015)

MADE IT TO No. 3

GREW UP IN Atlantic Beach before moving to New Jersey. However, she has fond memories of her younger years on Long Island.

“It’s where I started singing. I learned how to read, write and socialize from all the theater programs like the Long Beach Theatre Guild,” says Jax, 26, whose real name is Jackie Miskanic. “I was a crazy kid who lived right down the block from the beach. All my friends and I were beach bums who would run around barefoot all the time.”

REMEMBERED FOR Being the Long Islander who came the closest to winning.

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Jax has blown up on TikTok with over 9 million followers and spawned several hit singles such as “90s Kids,” “Like My Father” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”

ERIC ANTHONY LOPEZ

Eric Anthony Lopez appeared on season 14 of "American Idol"...

Eric Anthony Lopez appeared on season 14 of "American Idol" in 2015. Credit: Eric Anthony Lopez

SEASON 14 (2015)

MADE IT TO Top 40

GREW UP IN Wading River

REMEMBERED FOR Singing fellow Long Islander Mariah Carey’s song “Hero” in a lower register during Hollywood Week.

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Lopez took to the Broadway stage starring as Passarino in “The Phantom of the Opera” and will appear in the upcoming Disney sports film, “Chang Can Dunk.” 

“ ‘American Idol’ opened a lot of doors and changed my whole life,” says Lopez, 27. “Judge Harry Connick Jr. pulled me aside off camera and told me to audition for Broadway, which is what I’m doing now.”

SAL VALENTINETTI

Sal Valentinetti performs in front of the "American Idol" judges in...

Sal Valentinetti performs in front of the "American Idol" judges in 2015.

Credit: FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

SEASON 14 (2015)

MADE IT TO Hollywood Week

GREW UP IN Bethpage

REMEMBERED FOR Winning a $100 bet with Harry Connick Jr. for naming the original title of the Frank Sinatra song “Fly Me to the Moon” (it was called “In Other Words”) and flirting with Jennifer Lopez.

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Valentinetti moved his talents over to another show, “America’s Got Talent” where he came in 5th place during Season 11 in 2016. He released several albums and has toured the country for the past several years with his band.

“ ‘American Idol’ was my first look at reality TV. Even though I wasn’t serious about it going in, it made me want it even more,” says Valentinetti, 26. “It helped me get on ‘AGT’ and gave me an idea of what I was in for.”

ADAM EZEGELIAN

: Adam Ezegelian performs in the Top 8 Guys Perform...

: Adam Ezegelian performs in the Top 8 Guys Perform episode of "American Idol" in 2015. Credit: Fox

SEASON 14 (2015)

MADE IT TO Top 16

GREW UP IN Wantagh

REMEMBERED FOR Rocking out to songs like Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” and Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock.” 

AFTER ‘IDOL’ After working as a toy designer for Fisher Price, Ezegelian dived back into music by joining a band, Adam & the Metal Hawks, which released its self-titled debut in 2019. Its sophomore effort, “Hurry Up and Wait,” is set to drop later this year.

“ ‘American Idol’ gave me the confidence that I needed to put myself out there and go for my dreams of performing,” says Ezegelian, 28. “Without that, I might still be in that little cubical drawing away.”

CHRISTIAAN PADAVAN

Christiaan Padavan, 23, of Hampton Bays appeared on season 17...

Christiaan Padavan, 23, of Hampton Bays appeared on season 17 of "American Idol" in 2019. Credit: Christiaan Padavan

SEASON 17 (2019)

MADE IT TO Top 98 — middle of Hollywood Week

GREW UP IN Hampton Bays

REMEMBERED FOR His audition performing Billy Joel’s “Vienna” followed by an encore of “New York, New York”

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Padavan works in radio as a programming assistant and interim production director at Long Island Radio Broadcasting (101.7 the Beach, 102.5 WBAZ, 92.9 and 96.9 WEHM) in Water Mill. He also fronted a band called Away for the Day and recently released a solo single, “Million Little Lies.”

“On the show, they try to push you to your limit to see what you are capable of,” says Padavan, 23. “Some people don’t handle that well, but I’m a theater kid so I was used to pressure.”

JACKSON GILLIES

Jackson Gillies, 22, of New Suffolk appeared on season 17...

Jackson Gillies, 22, of New Suffolk appeared on season 17 of "American Idol" in 2019. Credit: Connie Gillies

SEASON 17 (2019)

MADE IT TO Top 68

GREW UP IN New Suffolk

REMEMBERED FOR Getting a standing ovation from all three judges for his rendition of John Mayer’s “Dreaming with a Broken Heart.”

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Gillies released several singles (“Miss Me Too,” “Girl Oh Goodness Why,” “I Could’ve Loved You”) and did some fundraising work with Kenny Loggins. He just dropped a new song, “Breeze."

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and will forever act as a time capsule for who I was when I auditioned,” says Gillies, 22. 

SHANNON GIBBONS

Shannon Gibbons, 23, of Bellport appeared on season 18 of...

Shannon Gibbons, 23, of Bellport appeared on season 18 of "American Idol" in 2020. Credit: Alicia Gibbons

SEASON 18 (2020)

MADE IT TO Top 40

GREW UP IN Bellport

REMEMBERED FOR Her performance of Kodaline’s “All I Want” during “Hollywood Week.”

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Gibbons fronts a band called Beat the System, which just released a new single, “What If” and is playing at Bellport’s Bandshell Summer Concert Series on Aug. 12.

“Being on ‘American Idol’ was a lifelong dream of mine and something I always wanted to do,” says Gibbons, 23. “I’ll always hold it close to my heart in my life’s journey.”

CHRISTIAN GUARDINO

Patchogue's Christian Guardino performs on the Mother's Day episode of...

Patchogue's Christian Guardino performs on the Mother's Day episode of ABC's "American Idol." Credit: ABC / Raymond Liu

SEASON 20 (2022)

MADE IT TO No. 7

GREW UP IN Patchogue

REMEMBERED FOR Bringing down the house with his version of “Circle of Life” from Disney’s “The Lion King.”

AFTER ‘IDOL’ Guardino is planning on doing some live shows, preparing an album and recently put out a new single, “Higher.”

“My ‘Idol’ run was the time of my life. I learned more than I ever thought I would,” says Guardino, 22. “The show taught me how to really grab people with a performance as well as various vocal techniques, which gave me a real boost in confidence.”

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