|Updated: 2/09/2012 7:45 am
||Published: 2/08/2012 3:12 pm
Lauren Gray's American Idol journey to Hollywood started last year with a road trip to St. Louis.
"We got there at daylight, and there was at least 15,000 people standing in the street, and I about had a heart attack because I thought, ‘oh my gosh, this is just one city, how could she ever make it through this day?’" Lauren’s mother Debbie Gray said.
Since Lauren could only take one person with her, Mom and Dad stayed in a hotel room, listening on her boyfriend's phone.
"There's 14 tables sitting down in the arena two judges at each table, and there's a booth in front of each table with four people,” Gray said. “Behind that booth is four more people, so as soon as they get them out of there, they got four more people. It never stops in every booth. They said, be prepared to sing behind other people because there will be 14 people singing at the same time at every minute."
Lauren's three audition-mates got cut after less than 20 seconds.
"She's standing there with her eyes closed singing her heart out thinking any minute [they would cut her] and they didn't," Gray said.
Lauren's boyfriend saw judges from the other end of the arena rush over.
"He said ‘oh, I see her, I hear her. Here comes two guys running,’” Gray said. “When she finished her song, she opened her eyes thinking they were going to cut her wrist band, and they asked her to sing another one."
Then the judges whisked Lauren off for five hours, going over rules for round two and trip two to Saint Louis where Lauren made it to round three, and an invite to round four to sing for Randy, Jennifer and Steven.
"We're standing back there behind those big black doors talking to Ryan Seacrest like he's our best friend,” Gray said. “And he asked us some questions, and I promised myself I was going to think about things before I answered, but I didn't. I just blurted out the answers."
That didn't keep Lauren from getting her golden ticket.
“"It is very emotional. I mean, I'll be the first to tell you that,” Lauren said. “I mean, I've done a lot of crying since I've been doing this."
She left for Hollywood in December but couldn't take much luggage, so her parents mailed her clothes.
One of the dresses right here that Lauren's parents sent out to Hollywood for her, and she ended up not needing it, so she mailed it back. It is now available for purchase.
But if Lauren's sent home - like her dress - will she ever audition again?
"I don't know. It all depends on how everything turns out in the end, I guess,” Lauren said. “I'm telling you, it's a grueling process like you said. It really is. There's times when it's really tough and you just want to give up."
For now - Lauren's not going anywhere.