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South Florida singers’ ‘American Idol’ auditions to get national exposure

South Florida “American Idol” hopeful Les Greene, right, sings at the New York auditions for a chance at the title. Greene fronts the Key West rock band Patrick and the Swayzees.
South Florida “American Idol” hopeful Les Greene, right, sings at the New York auditions for a chance at the title. Greene fronts the Key West rock band Patrick and the Swayzees. ABC

The “American Idol” reboot has a new judges table and airs on a different network after Fox put the original version out of its misery two years ago.

But some things remain the same, such as hometown pride.

For the new ABC version, which had a two-part season premiere that aired from 8 to 10 p.m. on Sunday and continued on Monday night on WPLG Local 10, we met Michelle Sussett, a Venezuelan refugee who makes her home in Sweetwater. She auditioned at Key Biscayne’s Miami Marine Flex Park back in August when the singing competition held auditions.

During next week’s audition episodes, we’ll see Les Greene, an energetic singer who fronts the Key West-based rock band Patrick and the Swayzees. He will be one of the featured “Idol” hopefuls on Sunday, March 18.

Johnny Rez. Idol
Johnny Rez, 27, from Miami auditions before “American Idol” judges in English and Spanish. He sang Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” Mark Levine ABC

And on Monday, March 19, Miami’s Johnny Rez, 27, will be featured as he auditioned with Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.” Rez sang before the judges in English and Spanish.

Call us provincial, we’ve been rooting on South Florida star-wannabes since 2005, ago when the original “American Idol,” then in its fourth season, boasted Miami’s first serious contender for the title, a then 27-year-old bartender named Nadia Turner.

Turner, now an actor living in Los Angeles, didn’t win even if we preferred her over that season’s eventual victor, country star Carrie Underwood.

So who are Greene and Rez?

According to his LinkedIn bio, Greene has been the lead singer of Patrick and the Swayzees for three years. He’s been a bartender and server at Zen West Roadside Cantina in Baltimore, Maryland, and he was a model for Abercrombie & Fitch for five years.

“He could win. He puts on a great show,” a Swayzees fan posted on the group’s Facebook page. There even seems to be a movement building around the front man: the Greene Patrol.

Rez was also a contestant on the 11th season of NBC’s “The Voice” in 2016. “You make people happy,” a fan posted on Rez’s Facebook page.

Greene and Rez face off before the judging panel of singers Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Host Ryan Seacrest returns from the original Fox incarnation.

Richie brings a wealth of experience to the judging table, which is why he agreed to join the reboot. And while he’s not Simon Cowell-styled mean, he has plenty more credibility to give constructive criticism than the former judge who gave the original “Idol” its identity but who also once signed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to a recording contract.

“History. That’s what I do have. I’m a real veteran of this business,” Richie, 68, said in a promotional video provided by ABC. “I’ve come out of the war in this business. And to see these kids at the beginning, I know what that looks like. When they think they are ready today, I know they are not ready today. So you send them home. I bring that experience to the table.”

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