Iowa Alumni Magazine | June 2006 | People

Hawkeye Idol: Megan Bobo

By Angie Toomsen

Paula Abdul called her "adorable" and the often-brutal Simon Cowell applauded her "personality, confidence, and great vocals." But, Randy Jackson proved the tough cookie for American Idol contestant Megan Bobo, 04BA.

In the early rounds of the Fox network's mega-hit national talent search, Jackson criticized her diverse song choices. "We never know what to expect from you, Megan," he complained. Then, she bewildered him again by belting out Meat Loaf's "Bat Out of Hell."

The risky choice paid off. Bobo advanced to Idol's  televised selection show in Hollywood, wherein front of 35 million viewersshe was the last person cut before the judges chose the final 24 singers who would compete to become  America's next big pop music sensation.

 "I kept surprising themI'm biracial, so they expected R&B but got Bonnie Raitt," says Bobo, who endured four months  of elimination rounds that began with nearly 200,000   contestants auditioning in cities across the country. "My goal is not to be typecast. It gives me an edge."

To Bobo, the diversity that made it tough for American Idol judges to pigeonhole her runs deeper than an ability to croon across genres. A natural performer, Bobo sang in church choir and the UI's Old Gold Singers, and she became a karaoke superstar in her hometown of Des Moines. Equally passionate about human rights, the UI communication and African American studies graduate advocates for the underserved, including women, children, and minorities. Her efforts earned her the 2005 Des Moines Human Rights Commission Youth Award.

Though Bobo considered becoming a civil rights attorney, law school will have to wait. Her American Idol experience has opened doors to the entertainment world, and Bobo, who now lives in Los Angeles, has an agent, potential roles in film and television, and a demo recording in the works.

"In the end, American Idol is just a TV show," she says. "But, it motivated me to go as far as I can without being molded into something I'm not."