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City of Whittlesea musicians’ Idol aspirations

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

Two budding City of Whittlesea musicians are counting down the days until they feature on the television series Australian Idol. 

Mill Park’s Ivana Ilic and Mernda’s Jake Carlson, both 20, have set their sights on the Australian Idol title, which premieres on Channel Seven next Monday.

In the early 2000s, Australian Idol launched the careers of Australian hitmakers, including Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Jessica Mauboy, Ricki-Lee and Anthony Callea.

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The show returned to television after a 14-year hiatus last year, and this year, it offers the winner $100,000 in prize money and a recording contract with Sony Music Entertainment Australia.

Before they can claim Idol glory, Ms Ilic and Mr Carlson must impress the celebrity judging panel, which contains radio personality Kyle Sandilands, American-Australian singer Marcia Hines, and Australian singer Amy Shark.

For Mr Carlson, the long walk to centre stage to face the three celebrities was unlike anything he had ever done before.

“I’m not someone who generally gets nervous – I’ve done a whole host of gigs,” he said.

“[But] having to look three of my idols in the face and sing to them was pretty scary.

“The nerves were high – I was a bit shaky, but I was really excited and I knew it could be a fantastic opportunity for me. That was what was trumping it at the time.”

Plastered across advertisements as the face of the upcoming Idol season, Mr Carlson’s reason behind his passion for music is capturing hearts across the nation.

“My brother was diagnosed with autism at a really young age … we didn’t know how to help him,” Mr Carlson said.

“But one thing that remained very consistent was the power of music in his life … Whatever was happening in his life, music was a real powerful thing for that.”

Having seen the positive impact of music in his home life, Mr Carlson pursued musical therapy to share his music.

While studying, he has continued to deliver musical therapy and work closely alongside children with severe autism and other disabilities, as well as in aged care.

The Idol dream extends beyond the prize money for Mr Carlson who wants to share his passion of the transformative power of music.

“Of course the [prize money] is a beautiful bonus, but that’s not so much what I’m doing it for,” he said.

“[It’s about] seeing people enjoy what I’m doing and taking something from it – that’s what’s been really special for me.”

The countdown is on until his highly-anticipated audition airs, and Mr Carlson said he was ‘stoked’ to watch it back.

Mernda’s Jake Carlson auditioned for television series Australian Idol with the dream of promoting the transformative power of music. ​

Ms Ilic is also excited to watch her audition when it airs, where she was supported by more than 12 people backstage, including her four protective brothers, parents, grandparents, and friends.

For Ms Ilic, the quest for the Idol win comes hand-in-hand with making her Serbian family proud and honouring her roots.

“It’s a hard industry to crack into and I feel like this is such a great opportunity,” she said.

“It’s a way to get yourself out there and be who I’ve always wanted to be and … become the artist that I know I can be.”

Centre stage was a big shift from her job at a burger shop, but Ms Ilic said she was ready to change it up and take a shot at a music career.

“It was probably one of the most nerve-racking things I’ve ever done – I won’t lie,” she said.

But after deep breaths and reminding herself that she was there for a reason, Ms Ilic was ready to tackle the audition head-on, confident off the back of her win on TikTok contest UNDSCVRD.

“I was like ‘you’re here for a reason, give it your all’,” she said.

People can follow the two singers on Instagram at @jakecarlsonmusic and @ivanailic3.

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