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Lynn native Amanda Mena brings her hope for ‘better days’ to ‘American Idol’

Amanda Mena auditions for "American Idol."
Amanda Mena auditions for "American Idol."Christopher Willard/ABC

For Lynn native Amanda Mena, auditioning for “American Idol” last fall was nothing like what she had seen on TV. There were no crowds, no nervous chats with fellow contestants waiting to audition. Instead, there was a lot more paperwork and masks and a plastic barrier separating her from the judges. But some things were the same, like those famous blue “American Idol” doors she faced right before her audition.

“Going in through that door and seeing these three judges who are celebrities and know so much about the music world — it was surreal,” said Mena, “It was something that I will definitely remember forever.”

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The St. Mary’s student’s audition for judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie will premiere on Fox Sunday at 10 p.m. She hopes her audition song, Jennifer Hudson’s rendition of “Golden Slumbers,” will strike a chord for listeners “waiting for better days.”

“It’s a power ballad and shows my abilities, but it also has a really beautiful meaning: We can always go back to that place where we were happy.”

For Mena, that message has been important to remember during the pandemic. After reaching the semifinals of “America’s Got Talent” in 2018, Mena has performed on Broadway, released original music, and has performed with the Boston Pops twice, including a Fourth of July performance with Queen Latifah and Arlo Guthrie.

But in 2020, her career slowed to a halt. Being unable to perform, Mena worked as a horse handler to help support her family through the pandemic. She missed the rush of being on stage, of working creatively.

“After [’America’s Got Talent’], I had a lot of opportunities but obviously that dies down after some time,” said Mena, who will be attending Berklee School of Music this fall. “I went on ‘American Idol’ because I wanted an opportunity to really show what I’ve got.”

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Her audition — like her audition song — is a display of hope, said Mena. Choosing a song from a former “Idol” contestant was just a coincidence, she said, but the resiliency in the lyrics was not.

“It’s a hard time for everyone, so I want them to just be able to listen to the song, be able to connect with it,” said Mena. “I want them to think about the moments that make them happy, and keep pushing and fighting for their dreams.”


Natachi Onwuamaegbu can be reached at natachi.onwuamaegbu@globe.com.