© 2023 NPR Illinois
The Capital's Community & News Service
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Wake Up! Donate $91.90+ to the Year-End Drive and receive the 2023 Murrow Mug. Support continued journalism.

UIS alum wows on American Idol

Hannah Nicolaisen
American Idol
Hannah Nicolaisen

Hannah Nicolaisen in going places. Hollywood, to be exact. Her audition on the hit show American Idol impressed the judges enough to award her a golden ticket, meaning she will compete in the next round.

Nicolaisen sang Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.”

“You did everything right to tell that story. That’s something we can’t teach,” said judge Lionel Richie at the end of the performance. “Your unique voice is what you pray for in this business.”

“You were definitely born to sing,” added judge Luke Bryan.

Nicolaisen, 24, hails from Houston, Texas. More recently, she’s been performing in Montgomery, Alabama.

She transferred to the University of Illinois Springfield and played on the school’s volleyball team.

She appeared in 80 matched at UIS and ended her career top 10 in the program’s NCAA era with 650 kills, 781 points and 186 blocks.

Her biography says she was the director of TEDxUofISpringfield and the Career Peer Student Mentor when she was in college.

She graduated with a degree in Exercise Science in 2022. She plans to purse a Master’s Degree in Psychology.

Prior to coming to UIS, she was a volleyball star for Cowley College, where she was a two-time Second-Team NJCAA All-American. The show included a clip of Nicolaisen during a match, spiking the ball into the face of an opponent.

“Well, you just spiked the ball in our face,” said judge Katy Perry.

Related Stories