A Voice For People With Disabilities

Feeling at home and starstruck with Julia Gargano, Staten Island’s ‘Idol’

When Julia Gargano stopped in to visit Lifestyles for the Disabled, the virtual audience was packed with over 100 fans and soon-to-be-friends. 

“Before we met her, I was excited. Then she seemed excited to see us. I was starstruck,” said Andrew M. 

Starstruck pretty much describes how everyone felt by the end of our session when she treated us to an acapella version of “Growing Pains.” 

“When she was singing that song, I wanted to cry,” said Joe P. “I felt a connection to Julia. It felt like she was my family.”

The “American Idol” judges felt pretty much the same. Katy Perry got up and hugged Gargano after she performed the song that she wrote in the first leg of qualifying for the national talent show.

With her hair loose, wearing an over-sized T-shirt and barely a wisp of makeup, her warm and easy going manner made everyone feel at home at the agency’s online Super Happy Funday. 

Having connections to Lifestyles may have helped put her at ease. Her brother attends one of the agency’s programs and a family friend is on the staff. That connection led to a partnership with TeeStyles, the agency’s custom garment service that created Team Julia Tee-Shirts during her run on American Idol.

Her team’s support which grew with every stage, took her to be one of seven finalists before she was eliminated. The Staten Island Advance followed her progress every step of the way.  

Her performances are all on this YouTube clip. Scroll down to continue reading our interview with her.

 “I just can’t understand that voice,” said Timothy Fauske. “It reminds me of an angel up in heaven.”

Gargano answered all of our questions about “American Idol” and singing.

Greg P: How did you get involved with “American Idol”?
Julia: It was never my plan. I didn’t really see that in my future. I was too scared to do singing shows. I didn’t really want to do anything like that, but I worked at a recording studio and my boss secretly slipped in my name and my music to “American Idol’s” producer without ever telling me. And that’s how I got this audition. And she came up to me and said the producer wants you to go in person and sing for them. So I said ‘Oh my goodness! I guess I have to go and do this now.’ And I did and look what happened. It’s crazy. That’s all it all started. 

Life-Wire: Let’s watched the audition tape. What was it like when Katie Perry hugged you? 
Julia: It was magical, terrifying, scary, amazing. 
Life-Wire News: What did she smell like?
Julia: Everybody asks me that. Just famousness.

Joe D
: What was your most favorite thing to do on “American Idol”?
Julia: My most favorite thing to do (other than sing) was to meet new friends. I met a lot of amazing peopleand other cast mates. And we’re gonna be friends for a long time. So that was definitely my favorite part. 

Meredith A: What is your writing process?
Julia: So it usually works where I’ll just be anywhere, and kind of think of one line in my head that I just love, and I’ll write it down on my notes in my cell phone. And then when I’m back home and I’m back on my piano, I’ll kind of write the whole song around this one line. That’s usually how it goes. Also, I love playing the piano, and a lot of times I’ll just be messing around on the piano, and a song will come to me. It depends on the day. It’s not like there’s a  solid thing that I do every time. But those are a few ways that it happens. It’s either an idea comes and I flesh it out later, or I’m noodling on the piano and I think of something there.

Donna W: What are your plans?
Julia: My plans are to keep singing and wear this awesome shirt you guys made.

Life-Wire News: Do you have a contract? Are we going to see you sometime?
Julia: I’m working all that stuff out now. I’m either going to come out with a new single which I have recorded. I have about three songs recorded right now. If not, there will be other exciting news. So it’s one or the other. I’m juggling a lot of things around.

Life-Wire News: Did you do the Westerleighh Park concerts before you were famous?
Julia: I used to play in Westerleigh Park all the time when I was growing up. And now, I think it would be so cool to do once it’s safe to do a big Westerleigh Park show.

Nick P: Is singing hard?
Julia: It takes practice. Just like everything else you want to be good at. So it’s hard if you want to keep getting better. But to me, it’s very fun and doesn’t require a lot of thought like things I’m bad at like math or science.

Nicole L: What made you go into singing?
Julia: There were a lot of things. My Dad always played the guitar and sang songs. That made me realize I love singing. I actually started out on the drums. I was six years old, and I started taking drum lessons; and then about a year into drum lessons, I started singing my drum teacher songs that I wrote and he was like, ‘I don’t think drums is your thing anymore.’ So that was when I started taking piano lessons and writing. It was kind of the thing I always loved to do.

Written collaboratively by Aaron Bialer, Timothy Fauske, Andrew Moszenberg, Joseph Paladino, Greg Perosi, for Life-Wire News Service with Kathryn Carse, along with questions contributed by Meredith Arout., Joe D., Nicole Lemily, Nick P., Donna W.

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