Singer-songwriter Zia Kloetzel ’25 was one of the top 56 contestants on the iconic show

For Zia Kloetzel ’25, who goes by the stage name Zia Blue, the journey to American Idol began on Instagram. In June 2021, just a couple of months before arriving on campus for her first semester, Kloetzel posted a clip of herself singing “Sixty Years” by Sophia James to her Instagram account. A few hours later, she received a direct message from one of the show’s senior producers inviting her to audition for Idol’s 20th anniversary season. It was the start of a whirlwind experience that would take her all the way to the historic Orpheum Theatre in Hollywood.

“I think I responded with, ‘Are you fake?’ I thought maybe it was a scam and they were trying to get my credit card number,” Kloetzel recalls. “But it turned out to be the real deal. I did two rounds of auditions over Zoom and then they asked me to fly to Nashville to sing for the celebrity judges.”