MODESTO, Calif. — Despite a strong celebrity duet performance with Cynthia Erivo Monday night, Modesto native Ryan Hammond did not advance to the next round in American Idol’s 17th season.
For his whole stint on the show this season, Hammond delivered strong performances and impressed judges and audience members alike.
Hammond isn't the only Modesto singer who made a big splash on American Idol. Last year, Effie Passero, just like Hammond, made it to the top 24 before being eliminated.
She now lives in Los Angeles, working full-time as a musician.
“I'm so glad, for two years in a row now, that town is being lit in a positive light to show that there is amazing stuff happening there and [that] the people are good," Passero told ABC10. "When it comes to the arts and the music and the people that are in that hometown, there's so much to be seen and so much good happening in the arts community."
Since competing on American Idol, Passero has launched a successful career that she credits to both American Idol and her Modesto roots
"I didn't have to go back to my day job [after American Idol], which is, like, everyone's dream,” Passero said. “I do music full-time. I work in the studio. I'm a session singer. I sing music for movie trailers, and I did background for Barbra Streisand last year."
She says Modesto's thriving arts scene and the Valley Talent Project - formerly called Valley's Got Talent - helped get both her and Hammond, a friend of hers, to where they are today.
"I feel like it's such a good thing for Modesto to have, to reassure the kids and the artists and the poets and the dancers that what they're doing means something and they can be on a bigger platform someday and they just need to not give up,” Passero said.
Her advice to aspiring Central Valley singers is to “just go for it!”
Even though Hammond got eliminated Monday night, his career as a singer is just beginning.
"I'm just so proud of him, and I'm very excited to see what happens to his future!" Passero said of her friend.
Two Californians made it to the Top 14 in this season of American Idol. Bay Area singer Ashley Hess is still in the competition, as is Southern California singer Alejandro Aranda.
Catch American Idol Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC10.
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