LoHud Lowdown

Stalking Lower Hudson Valley Celebrities … So You Don't Have To


Archive for the ‘Kara DioGuardi’

Kara DioGuardi’s decision to drop law plans paved way for ‘Idol’ gig09.13.08

New Rochelle native Kara DioGuardi had just received a political science degree from Duke University, but she told me that career path burdened her as early as her junior year.
new-idol-panel.jpg

“I’d always heard melodies in my head, I’d always loved the theatre and I’d loved the arts, but I just didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t know how to break in.”

So although her father, former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, wasn’t thrilled to hear she was singing in an Ossining garage band called Gramma Trips instead of becoming a prosecuting attorney, he offered advice that wound up propelling her career in the music industry:

“You know what you do? You find the place that will help you to learn … tell them you’ll work for them for nothing. They’re probably going to pay you something. But just do it.”

From that moment on, Kara DioGuardi’s singing, songwriting and producing talents transcended the Lower Hudson Valley and Durham, N.C., to reach an international audience. And all that led to her recently being named as “American Idol’s” newest judge.

Find out more about her Westchester County upbringing and her path to stardom in my article appearing in today’s edition of The Journal News.

Posted by: Chris Serico - Posted in Dobbs Ferry, Kara DioGuardi, New Rochelle, Ossining, Scarsdalewith 1 Comment →

EXCLUSIVE: Kara DioGuardi picks favorite ‘Idol’ contestants, performance and judge (sort of)09.09.08

Just before Labor Day weekend, I had the pleasure of chatting up New Rochelle native and Grammy-nominated songwriter/producer Kara DioGuardi, who on Aug. 25 Fox announced as the fourth judge on “American Idol.”

new-idol-panel.jpgA true LoHudder, her connections to the region are seemingly endless. As a child, she attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, sang at the Larchmont Shore Club and provided the soundtrack at campaign stops throughout Westchester County for her father, former U.S. Congressman Joe DioGuardi. She later graduated from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. Despite graduating from Duke University with a degree in political science, she abandoned law to become a vocalist in an Ossining garage band called Gramma Trips.

After snagging multiple jobs at Billboard magazine for a five-year span, she got signed to a record deal. Although her singing career never took off, her songwriting and producing gigs did. She was partially or completely responsible for writing Gwen Stefani’s “Rich Girl,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away,” Christina Aguilera’s “Ain’t No Other Man” and dozens of other recent hits. No wonder she was named BMI’s 2006 Pop Songwriter of the Year.

My full story about DioGuardi is slated for the week ahead, but in the meantime, check out 10 questions and answers from my exclusive interview with “Idol’s” newest judge:

kara2.JPGWhat recent song do you most wish you’d written?
“Irreplaceable” by Beyoncé.

As a singer, how far do you think you would advance on “American Idol”?
“I would hope to the top 10.”

How long have you been watching “Idol”?
“Since the beginning.”

You’d said that you thought “Idol” would have hired someone more famous to fill the fourth judge’s chair. Had you heard of any famous names who were being considered?
“They kind of kept me in the dark. I hadn’t really heard anything.”

As of Aug. 28, who was the most famous person outside of the show to congratulate you for the “Idol” hire?
“Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics).”

From the first seven seasons, who have been your three favorite “Idol” alumni?
“I’d say Kelly Clarkson, (Chris) Daughtry and, hmm, I like Katharine McPhee.”

Who’s the most underrated “Idol” contestant of all time?
“Katharine McPhee.”

What’s your favorite “Idol” performance so far?
“I thought that ‘Billie Jean’ performance that David Cook did was ridiculous.” (In the good way.)

The perception among fans is that Simon Cowell’s the bad cop, Paula Abdul’s the good cop and Randy Jackson’s somewhere in between. With which judge have you sided the most through the years?
“Probably Simon. Sometimes he can be hard, but I also think at times he’s doing people a favor.”

For your first day judging “Idol” contestants, you sat between Randy and Paula at the judges’ table. Where would you want to sit?
“You know at this point, I’m pretty much just like, ‘Where do you want me?’ I’m the new kid in school. I’m not going to cause waves right from the beginning.”

(AP Photo of Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson/Jason DeCrow; AP Photo of DioGuardi/Chris Pizzello)

Posted by: Chris Serico - Posted in American Idol, Christina Aguilera, Dobbs Ferry, Exclusive, Gwen Stefani, Immaculate Heart of Mary, Joe DioGuardi, Kara DioGuardi, Kelly Clarkson, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Ossining, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Scarsdale, Simon Cowell, The Masters Schoolwith 2 Comments →

Wanna be on national TV? It helps if you’re from Westchester. Just ask Kara DioGuardi and Bobby Moynihan.08.25.08

August has been a good month for Westchester natives who seek a national network TV audience.

kara2.JPGToday it was announced that Kara DioGuardi, who grew up in New Rochelle, was named the unprecedented fourth judge on “American Idol.”

I spoke this afternoon with her proud papa, Joe DioGuardi, an Ossining resident and former U.S. Congressman. He told me Kara was raised in the Wilmot Woods section of New Rochelle, attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale and graduated from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry. He said his phone has been ringing off the hook today but was proud of and thrilled for his daughter.

It’ll be interesting to see with whom she most often sides on the panel. I’m guessing she’ll have the compassion of Paula but the ear of Simon, which in my mind is the ideal combination.

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This was the second bit of exciting news for Westchester natives this month. As I reported last week for sister blog Remote Access, Eastchester’s Bobby Moynihan is joining the cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

I’m psyched not only because he’s a talented product of the Lower Hudson Valley and because I love the show, but also because I’ve been friends with him since we were in middle school. Call it full disclosure or name-dropping. Either way, I’m proud of him.

With a budding film career and tons of experience performing at the Upright Citizens Brigage Theatre in Manhattan, Moynihan’s an outstanding sketch and improv comedian and will quickly become an audience favorite.

Want some gossip about him? He really likes peach Snapple. Ooooh! Call the Enquirer!

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello; Moynihan photo/Brendan McMullen)

Posted by: Chris Serico - Posted in Bobby Moynihan, Dobbs Ferry, Eastchester, Kara DioGuardi, New Rochelle, Scarsdalewith 4 Comments →