Livingston singer Laine Hardy's been getting a lot of TV face time even before "American Idol" reboots with episodes Sunday and Monday.
For months, national viewers have been seeing the 17-year-old French Settlement High School senior on commercials for ABC's once-popular FOX reality show. "American Music Awards," there's Hardy. "Super Bowl," there he is again.
And when "Idol" judge and country star Luke Bryan appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday to plug the show, who was featured in the video clip? You guessed it.
"My baby is on GOOD MORNING AMERICA!" proud mom Cindy Lou Hardy posted on Facebook.
In the snippet from Hardy's audition, which will be part of Monday night's show, he faced the "Idol" judges in New Orleans last fall. Hardy tells them he's from Livingston, and Bryan's quick to ask, "Do you hunt 'gator?" When Hardy responds "Yeah," Bryan follows up with "Well, have you ever caught an alligator on a topwater plug?"
Judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie are dumbfounded.
"I'm getting this boy's country cred," Bryan explained.
"Please be able to sing," he pleads to Hardy.
Byran told the "GMA" anchors that since Hardy is from the bayous of Louisiana, the alligator question was valid. When Bryan was growing up in Georgia, they'd use topwater plugs (a type of fishing lure) to catch bass, but sometimes they'd reel in small alligators instead.
"I just wanted to make sure he wasn't fibbing us," Bryan added, laughing.
No need for that. Hardy is a fisherman as well as a hunter, such an avid one that his 3-year-old group, The Band Hardy, doesn't play during hunting season. Its leader is out looking for deer, turkey and squirrel.
Hardy's interest in music goes back to when he first picked up a guitar at age 7. He learned to play the instrument from Walker musician and music shop owner Jody Mayeux, taking lessons until he was 12 or 13.
Hardy said he's only been singing in public for two years and has no professional training.
"I started singing by myself. Then I sang for mom, and she liked it. And then I sang for some of my friends," he said.
"I grew up around old country, classic rock and swamp pop. I play country, blues, and classic rock and swamp pop now."
"Elvis, he's at the top … he inspired me to start playing music in the beginning."
It was his mom, however, who inspired him to audition for "American Idol."
"One day she asked me if I wanted to do 'American Idol,' and I was a little indecisive on whether I wanted to do it or not. So … I thought about it a little while, and told my mom I wanted to do it," he said.
When Hardy walked into the audition room at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans last fall, all three "Idol" judges faced him.
"I was very nervous," he recalled. "It was a blur once I got on the stage because it was so unreal to me, and I couldn't believe I was right in front of these judges."
Although show rules prohibit Hardy from revealing whether he advanced in the competition, he said the judges' feedback was positive.
"I think they enjoyed watching me play and sing."
Viewers will also see Neshia Ruffins, of New Orleans, and Garrett Jacobs, of Bossier City, sing for the judges during one of the first three episodes. Ruffins was unavailable for an interview with The Advocate.
Also auditioning from Louisiana, but whose air dates have not been announced, include: Chaislyn King and Kesley Bourgeois, of Baton Rouge; Anamé Rose, New Iberia; Jomarc Dasalla, Xeno Moonflower, Chenae Marie, SymoneAlisa, Mikey Duran and Ashley O'Neill Monaghan, all of New Orleans; Kaitlann Runnels, Slidell; and Cameron Theodos, Shreveport.
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday
CHANNEL: WBRZ, Channel 2 (cable Channel 5)