From Coastal Carolina University
CONWAY, SC Elise Testone, Coastal Carolina University alumna (class of 2005), is competing on Fox TV's Season 11 of "American Idol." She made her TV debut on the season opener, which included highlights (and lowlights) of auditions from seven American cities, including Charleston and Savannah. The show on Wednesday begins the "Hollywood Week" of live competition.
Testone, who grew up in New Jersey, earned a bachelor's degree in music from CCU. After graduating, she moved to Charleston in 2006 and started performing around town with a variety of rock, pop, funk and blues musicians. She is currently performing with the Freeloaders band around the city.
"It's a great chance for her," said Patti Edwards, voice professor who worked with Testone for her classical repertoire required for a music degree. "She's been working very hard and has a big following. I hope she does make it to the top and that she tells everyone she came from Coastal Carolina."
Diane Fabiano, a friend and classmate who performs with Testone on occasion, said she accompanied Testone to the "Idol" audition in Charleston, her second audition for the show. (A previous one was unsuccessful.)
"She is a true musician trying to make it with her music," said Fabiano, who works in CCU's alumni relations office. "She teaches music, she does her gigs, and she's actually making a living with her music, which is very hard to do."
Fabiano said Testone plays drums, piano, guitar and tambourines "like no one else I've ever heard" and writes her own jazzy, bluesy songs.