Five Interviews With Future Pop Stars at the X Factor Tryouts In Miami

This morning at 6 a.m., a massive group of sincere, talented singers (and a equally massive gaggle of delusional people who think they're singers) gathered at the BankUnited Center to show the world's bullies that they actually are, in fact, special.

Auditions for the upcoming Simon Cowell show, X Factor, were open to groups and soloists with absolutely no age limitations. Everyone was singing for a $5 million contract.

Crossfade headed down to chat with a handful of potential future pop stars. These five got a Golden Ticket, bringing them to the next round of not-total-losers. You'll probably see their faces on the TV once the show airs and say, "I know them from somewhere."


What'd you sing today?
"I Want to be Where You Are" by Michael Jackson

You like Michael Jackson?
Yes, I love Michael Jackson.

Is he your favorite?
Yeah, him and James Brown are my mentors. And Usher and Ne-Yo are... yeah.

Were you nervous coming in here today?
I usually don't get nervous. But today was my first day being nervous.

It's good to be nervous. Keeps you on your toes. Keeps you from being too confident.

Who do you get your dance moves from?
I watch everybody who dances, I even watch break dancers and everything. I even try to do the moves on the floor and stuff like that. I just take moves and put them as my own.

You sing your own music?
I actually have a song called "Crush" and it's on my website

Where the craziest you've ever sang in public?
Oh, at McDonald's!

Did you get free fries?
Yeah! (laughs)

I'd sing at McDonalds for fries, and I don't even have a nice voice.

Tara Rogers Wallace

What song did you sing in the audition?
"Home" by Stephanie Mills from Oz

Are you a fan of musicals?
Absolutely, I grew up, born and raised doing musical theater. I performed with Howard University, that was my college.

What's your favorite song?
Anything with Whitney Houston is my favorite song.

What you feel about your experience here today?
It was fantastic. The experience just solidified the fact that I still have the art. I'm 36 years old...

You look good!
I thought I'm have to hang that up, and just leave it to the shower, but anybody that has a talent and artistic ability, I encourage to stay stay encouraged.

Do you like Simon Cowell?
I love Simon. Are you kidding? He's critical but he's just like my mother.

Fernando Castro (a.k.a. Inferno)

What song did you sing in the audition?
"TNT" by AC/DC

Favorite musician?
Between Rob Halford and Jim Morrison and Freddy Mercury, and I love Michael Jackson, everyone loves Michael Jackson.

What's with your interesting facial hair?
I remember it was really popular back when I was in high school, to get a little fade, or a little facial design, but it typically wasn't something too crazy, it was just like a little line or a little mustache or goatee or whatever. So, I decided to change it up, I wanted to add the lightning bolts.

Specifically for this event?
No, I do it all the time. People here in Miami always see the zigzags and sometimes they compliment and sometimes they're like I hate it, but like whatever, I love it.

Where's the craziest place you've ever sang?
I actually sang at this event called Wachabi Fest which was at Finnegan's on the River, it was kind of like a pool party, it wasn't really like too crazy, but it was really fun, there were a ton of people there in bathing suits...

Were you in a bathing suit?

That would have made a better story.

Stephaine Michaels of Fusion

What song did you sing in the audition?
"I Who Have Nothing," originally by Tom Jones, Jordan Sparks redid it a few years back on American Idol.

Who's your favorite artist?
I would go with Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey. If we go back into the older days, I would say Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight.

Was your experience today intimidating?
It was super nerve wracking. Because you go in there and you don't know what to expect, and then you think, God forbid what if they don't like me.

Are you scared to meet Simon?
No! I'm ready to meet him, I want to meet Simon.

What's with the one glove?
I didn't want to cover up your tattoos.

Where the craziest place you've ever played?
I mean, I've sang on a train. Just started humming one day and somebody asked me to sing more, and I just started singing for everyone on the train.

On the Metrorail?
Well, it wasn't here, it was in New York.

Arsi Rey

What song did you sing in the audition?
"If I Ever Fall in Love Again" by Shai

What's your favorite song?
"Come With Me" by Shai. It's a gorgeous song.

Are you excited?
I'm extremely excited. X Factor has given us a lot of opportunities. Some of us are late bloomers, and I can't stand the age restrictions that a lot of the other talent shows have. If you're a late bloomer, you can have a fantastic voice at the age of 50.

That's true. Where is the craziest place you've ever sang?
It had to be my friend's, I sang at his birthday party, right? So, it's just so weird because since he's a friend of mine, he started to make fun of me, he started to imitating my movements. So, I'm over here trying to concentrate on my music, and he's over here clowning with me.

You like boxing?
Yes, I used to box when I was a younger person.

A younger person.

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy