She was only on "American Idol" for 0.3 seconds Sunday, but for young Centerport singer Vaeda Black, seen waving a golden ticket to the show's Los Angeles auditions, that was a golden third of a second.
"I actually got three yeses," from judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie in her unaired Washington, D.C., audition, says Black. That surprised the Long Island University Brooklyn music student, who turned 18 in November, since Perry "really hated" the first of Black's two songs, an original titled "Drunken Tears."
"I understand why,” says Black, born Celia Spero. "The song is pretty out there and theatrical and dark. I thought it was going to be hit or miss, love it or hate it. She obviously hated it," the teen says, chuckling. "After I started singing, everyone got really quiet and Katy just goes, 'You're. Creepy!' In my head I was thinking, 'Me? I'm creepy? You have a music video where you're getting chopped up and put in a soup!'," referring to Perry's 2017 "Bon Appétit," in which the pop star is used as the main ingredient in a variety of dishes, including being "cooked" whole in a pot of seemingly boiling liquid.
"In the moment I was freaking out," Black confesses, "because it's such a random thing. But now I can look at it and laugh — the song is creepy, so that makes sense." "Drunken Tears" drops Friday, joining three other singles Black has released.
After that first audition song, the judges "wanted to hear me sing something that wasn't an original,” she says. "I understand — it's hard to judge a song you don't know because you have nothing to base it on." Black belted out Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" and passed the audition, which took place Oct. 14-15.
Born in Smithtown and raised in Commack until third grade, when her family moved to Centerport, Black is the only child of Tracey Roberts-Spero, a photographer, and Tommy Spero, a musician who has worked as a marketing creative and as a web user-experience (UX) designer for the health care company Allscripts. She attended both Harborfields High School in Greenlawn and, in afternoons, Nassau BOCES' Long Island High School for the Arts in Syosset, graduating in spring 2019.
Black — who has headlined the Long Island Fall Festival in Huntington and sung at such venues as Manhattan's Rockwood Music Hall and Arlene's Grocery — came to "American Idol" when "one of the producers reached out to me over email randomly over the summer," after hearing her music on SoundCloud. "I honestly thought it was fake." She and her parents investigated and found it legit — but she still almost didn't audition.
" 'American Idol' is such a great platform for artists who don't necessarily have the means to be heard and it really boosts their platform," Black says. "But I didn't want to feel like I would have to do a ton of covers and change my sound for the show. So I was a little nervous about that. But I thought, 'When am I ever going to get this chance again? I'd be so stupid not to take the opportunity.' "