Surviving a 2,000-contestant try-out at Mariucci Arena in June, Kemil Casey (above) advanced in September to auditions at the Minneapolis Convention Center, where this photo was taken.  On the second day at the Convention Center, he was 1 of 30 remaining contestants.  (Photo courtesy of Kemil)

 

The golden microphone held by Kemil (above) helped him stand out.  (Photo by Ed DuBois)

 

American Idol judges Keith Urban (far left), Jennifer Lopez (center) and Harry Connick Jr. (far right) pose with contestants for the media.  (Photo courtesy of Kemil)