To continue on to the Hollywood round, a contestant must get a yes from at least two of the three judges. Jackson said no, and Abdul said yes. The final vote came down to Cowell, a notoriously harsh critic.
Phillips said Cowell thought she was good and was just going to improve, so he voted her in.
“I was a little nervous beforehand, but it was more excitement than anything,” she said. “They just sort of shove you through the doors (to perform).”
Estep said she was probably more nervous than Phillips.
“I was outside the door during, trying to peek through the crack,” Estep said. “I thought I heard them say yes, but I wasn’t sure.”
She said her daughter started performing at an early age, and was selected to be on “Star Search” and has performed on “The Caroline Rhea Show,” which makes her fearless when it comes to performing.
“She’s gutsy, she just goes in and throws caution to the wind,” she said.
The Chicago audition was not Phillips’ first attempt to get on this year’s “American Idol.”
She and Estep traveled to San Francisco in August to audition for the show, but did not get the chance to perform.
She said she was in line to perform for a producer in the first round of auditions, but the producer said she wasn’t taking any more auditions.
“The lady didn’t even let me sing,” she said.
“It was terribly disappointing, but she was OK with it,” Estep said. “She has faith in herself.”
She said there was no backup plan if Phillips did not get accepted in Chicago, which was the last scheduled audition date. A date was later added in North Carolina, and they probably would have traveled there for Phillips to audition if necessary.