Arlington’s own ‘Idol’

  • By Andy Rathbun Herald Writer
  • Monday, February 4, 2008 9:47pm
  • Life

Three times, Lacey D. Johnston tried out for “American Idol,” and three times she failed.

Johnston, an Arlington country singer, was dismissed once for being too “cruise line,” she said. Another time, producers told her she resembled a contestant they already admitted. She never made it in front of the show’s three famous judges.

Not being one to linger on discouragement, Johnston went to a Nashville studio in October. By December, she released her debut album, “Everyday Girl,” under her stage name, Lacey D — the D is for DeLores. Now, she’s plotting a move from the rainy Pacific Northwest to the country music capital of the world, Nashville, to pursue a singing career.

“I have had a lot of rejection in my day, in my journey to where I am right now,” the 24-year-old said. “And that’s good, because I’m sure I’m going to face more rejection, and that’s going to make me stronger.”

“Everyday Girl” is a solid collection of classic country sounds. Slide guitar, piano and Johnston’s big, bold voice anchor these songs. Some feel fitted to a barroom, particularly the up-tempo “Missin’ Your Love Tonight” and the title track. Johnston also tries to wring out a few tears with love songs such as “One Heart” and “You Are.”

“Country is all about the truth,” she said, citing LeAnn Rimes as an influence. “There are a lot of songs that talk about the hardships of life and the reality of living and dying and finding love and losing love and family and God. I love it.”

Scott Turner, a Nashville-based producer who heard Johnston’s demo, recorded the album during a whirlwind week in Music City USA.

“She doesn’t sound like anybody else,” Turner said, mentioning he’s worked with Rosemary Clooney. “It was just a joy.”

While some call Johnston “the little girl with the big voice,” that phrase is a bit misleading. Yes, she’s 5-feet-1-inch tall, and yes, she has a big voice, but, as a mother of two, she is hardly a girl.

“I am petite as in ‘little,’” she said, sitting on a big couch in her parents’ Arlington home. “I wouldn’t say that I’m a girl. I was at one point, but I think I’ve matured into a woman.”

Johnston has dabbled in music for more than a decade, polishing her sound with a family friend, Robert Hammerstrom. In his makeshift home studio, the Shoreline resident helped her record the demos that eventually found their way to Turner.

Hammerstrom recalled one of his first meetings with Johnston. She brought in some radio-friendly alternative rock to sing.

“She knocked me out doing those Alanis Morissette songs at 13,” he said. “That’s kind of it. Right off the bat, I knew she had something.”

Despite her talent, after high school, Johnston put a singing career on the back burner to focus on raising her children. She sporadically would sing at shows, doing “a lot of weddings and funerals.” But the itch to perform never left, and now she feels it’s time to take the plunge.

“I wanted to climb back up and go back where I always wanted to be, and that was center stage, under the lights,” she said.

She’s learning guitar with Hammerstrom, and visited Nashville in mid-January to look for apartments. She may move in June, and is ready to tend bar to make ends meet.

As for Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, well, that rejection still stings a bit, but she’s basically over it.

“I’m taking my own route,” she said. “And some day, I can thank ‘American Idol’ for kicking me down and making me stronger.”

Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455 or e-mail arathbun@

Talk to us

More in Life

Brian Geppert holds a birdhouse made of skis at his home in Lynnwood, Washington on Saturday, March 11, 2023. Geppert started a recycling program for the greater Seattle area, which has saved hundreds of skis from their demise. He turns the skis into functional art for the home, such as coat racks, bottle openers, bookends, shelves, candle sconces, toilet plungers, beer flights, and more. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Boeing engineer turns old ski gear into household essentials

If Lynnwood’s Brian Geppert isn’t on the slopes, then he’s turning skis into coat racks and bottle openers.

Give your home some extra love with a deep clean this spring. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Roll up your sleeves and tackle these 15 spring cleaning steps

A lot of work? Sure. But it beats paying $800 for a cleaning service to do all this stuff.

What to do when a co-worker makes you miserable

It’s counterintuitive, but you need to get to know that person better. You don’t need to be friends — just understand them better.

Positano, the jewel of Italy's Amalfi Coast, hugs the rugged shoreline.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Glitzy Positano: Not just a pretty facade

It’s one of the most romantic and chic stops on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, a place of beaches, sunshine and picturesque towns.

Lyft charged her $150 for mud stains in a car. But she didn’t do it!

Debbie Kim is shocked to find a $150 charge from Lyft on her credit card. What did she do — and is there a way to undo it?

Hurtado works in a tattoo style called “fine line.” (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Tattoo artist draws a fine line

Ernesto ‘Nesto’ Hurtado of Wicked Boy Tattoo in Lynnwood specializes in a minimalist style that draws praise and criticism.

Caption: Three years after the pandemic began, simple items like masks, disinfecting wipes and toilet paper stir up deep memories.
Psychological impact of pandemic lingers three years later

When the words “two-item limit” in supermarkets still strike fear, it’s hard to toss pandemic relics like cloth masks.

Is every day Groundhog Day — and the same old bad habits?

How can we embrace change without waking up every morning to the same day?

Christian pilgrims and tourists are drawn to the dramatically situated Mont St-Michel, a soaring island abbey in Normandy that is completely surrounded by the sea at high tide.
Rick Steves on Mont St-Michel, Normandy’s magnificent island abbey

Solitude drew monks to this rock outpost long, long ago. Today, it’s crowded with tourists.

80,000 Bonvoy points go missing. Can she get them back?

Celeste Rubanick loses 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points when she books a hotel in Scotland. Why won’t the company restore the points?

Some of the brightest spots in my garden right now are my clumps of mixed crocuses. (Getty Images)
Lessons spring from what does and does not winter over

Taking stock of how your garden fared through the cold, wet months will help you plant for the future.

Antique mocha ware, made in England to export to the United States and Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries, caught collectors’ attention in the mid-20th century. Like many mocha pieces, this colorful mug is decorated with several patterns.
The name for decorated pottery like this can be deceiving

Mocha pottery is made from clay and features colorful patterns painted over a white glaze.