Idol Airman 'Hunts Down' her singing dream

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Carly A. Costello
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
A vocalist with the U.S. Air Force Heartland of America Band and American Idol contestant, who advanced to the final audition of American Idol's Hollywood Week, won't let being sent home stop her from hunting down her dreams.

On the Feb. 12 and 13 episodes of the singing contest, Senior Airman Paula Hunt was one of 20 contestants cut from the show after she performed "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion.

Ever since she was a little girl, Hunt dreamt of singing in front of thousands, sharing her voice with the world. Hunt got an opportunity to achieve this dream after receiving three yeses from the judges when she tried out for American Idol during the Omaha auditions, which aired Jan. 30, sending her to Hollywood Week.

"Once I found out I was going to Hollywood Week, I realized that this could be the gateway to me getting to live those dreams I've had since I was a little girl," Hunt said.

Once she arrived in Hollywood, Hunt went through four more rounds of auditions, making it to the last round of Hollywood Week before being sent home.

For six days, Hunt worked hard preparing herself for audition after audition. She tried to save her voice but also need to practice, forcing herself to learn one new song a day.

"Round after round there was fear then amazing relief," Hunt said. "I just kept saying I am so blessed. I prayed so hard that week."

Hunt preforms with the Heartland of America Band on a weekly and sometimes daily occurrence, but being on American Idol taught her that she still has some stage fright, something she believes cost her the chance to continue on in the competition.

"I learned that I am not a fearless performer," Hunt said. "When I'm on stage, sometimes I psych myself out for no reason. That last round came, and when I woke that morning, it was as if I had unpacked all my fear. My voice was so tired and I was so tired. The adrenaline was gone and I let those factors show while singing."

Even though Hunt wished she had made it to the finals, she feels blessed to have the opportunities she had and said that she learned a lot from the experience.

"I got to work with world-renowned vocal coaches and performed with a well-known-band," Hunt said. "I made all of these amazing connections. I am very proud of myself."

According to her co-workers, Hunt always keeps a positive attitude, which is something she carried on through her time on American Idol.

"The thing that has always stood out the most to me about Airman Hunt is her beautiful, positive spirit," Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Packard, Heartland of America Band first sergeant. "No matter what is going on in her life, she manages to keep a positive attitude.

She is also a hard worker, who is determined to "hunt down [her] dream," a phrase Hunt uses often when sharing her story and updates with more than 800 followers on her "Official Paula Hunt" Facebook page.

"I am very proud of my daughter," said Yolanda Kynard, Hunt's mother. "She has raised the bar for her family and her attitude is that of a working military mother."

Hunt said if she could do it again, she would bring her family with her.

"My family knows me best," Hunt said. "They are so happy for me and so supportive. I needed that there with me, and I needed their insight and ideas. I am so blessed to have them. I know they were cheering for me from home, but next time, they're coming with me."

Hunt plans to try out for American Idol again in the near future.

"Something I learned while in Hollywood was that this can take more than once to accomplish," Hunt said. "I would want nothing more than to be given the chance to go back next year, knowing what I know now. I think I can really do this."

Hunt's family and fellow band members have seen her talent mature and grow over the years and believe that she can hunt down her dreams.

"I believe Senior Airman Hunt's talent will continue to grow and will take her as far as she allows it to go," Packard said.