Twenty-year-old Hamptons Bays native Christiaan Padavan made national waves when he auditioned for the latest season of ABC’s American Idol. Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan unanimously voted to send Padavan to Hollywood. Padavan was eliminated in the March 25 episode, but his infectious enthusiasm and dedication are sure to carry this young talent far.
Walk us through your American Idol audition.
I’ve been auditioning for American Idol ever since I was eligible to. I’ve always made it through to the executive producer round but I never made it any further. There’s a few rounds before you sing in front of the celebrities. So it was really nerve-wracking because I didn’t know what to expect, to actually sing in front of the celebrities. So walking in, I was a little nervous, but then as I got to talk to them the “red face” started to go away a little bit and I got comfortable with them. They’re just normal people like you and me…I got to talk to them about what they’ve done, which is absolutely insane!
Which of the judges were you most nervous to meet?
Probably Lionel Richie, because I grew up listening to Motown records in my dad’s car, and hearing him talk about how he would casually hang out with the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and all that good stuff, it’s crazy.
Why did you go with Billy Joel’s “Vienna” for your audition song?
I’m hoping that Billy Joel gets to see it! I’m a huge fan and he’s such an inspiration to a Long Island musician like myself and I wanted to represent Long Island well, so I thought what would be a better choice than a Billy Joel song?
Do you go to school?
I went to college for two semesters at Five Towns College up in Dix Hills as a musical theater major and then last semester I took part-time classes at Suffolk and then during that time I wanted to fill in my extra time with some internships. As I continue my musical journey and writing my own music and auditioning for shows, I’d love to work for iHeartRadio or a record label. I started interning at Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, and now I’m the marketing assistant. I help out with the junior theater art program over there. I also work at Long Island Radio Broadcasting and they’re teaching me how to be an on-air personality.
What was going through your head when the judges said you were going to Hollywood?
It was definitely a shocker! I could tell that they liked me, but just hearing them say, “You’re going to Hollywood!” was absolutely insane. That’s something I’ve seen on TV for my whole life, and now I was living it. It felt like a dream and still feels like a dream.
The judges had you bring in your girlfriend, Victoria Ziccardi, to sing with you. What was that like?
It was awesome. Everybody was thinking that it was staged and it definitely wasn’t, let me tell you. She’s a great singer, but she’s so shy about it so I’m bringing her out of her shell a little bit more so hopefully this gives her a confidence boost.
Where do you get your musical inspiration?
I definitely get it from my parents and my mom’s parents. They raised me on Dean Martin Rat Pack type of stuff, and my dad was all very Motown and mom was all very Led Zeppelin and all that.
When did you first start singing?
Ever since I was a little boy, I used to hum in the back of the car, that’s how my parents could tell if I was alright. From there I started to sing. The first song I learned was “Born to Be Wild,” I knew the whole song by heart when I was a little kid, and then I went to Our Lady of the Hamptons in Southampton and every Christmas there’s a giant show and everyone has to be in it, and Sister Kathy [Schlueter], the principal, threw me into the loop and gave me a solo, and everybody went nuts. And ever since then I’ve been hooked on singing and took vocal lessons and guitar lessons.
I’ve been auditioning for shows and musical theater, and then I learned how to play the ukulele through a friend and stuck with that. A friend taught me when I was 12. My senior year, gigs started to happen. I always worked at 1 North Steakhouse as a busboy, and in my senior year they gave me Saturday gigs, and from that gig came another gig and another gig, and last summer through iHeartRadio, me and some buddies won some studio time and we’ve been using that. I’ve been blessed with opportunity in the last year.
What are some of your favorite musical roles?
I played Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, I played Danny Zuko in Grease and I won a Teeny Award for Best Actor in a Musical for Gomez in The Addams Family.
What would you like to say to your fans?
I would like to say thank you for always believing in me. And for those that are starting to catch wind of my name, I hope you stay and hope you continue to support. It means the world to me.
Christiaan Padavan will perform at Cowfish, 258 East Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays, on March 29 from 6–9 p.m. For more information, visit cowfishrestaurant.com.