EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Dzaki Sukarno, a New Mexico State University student and country singer, auditioned for American Idol on Feb. 28 and won a straight ticket to Hollywood.
Sukarno found his love for country music from his dad and also from living in both Mississippi and Las Cruces.
Several years ago, he started regularly performing at a local farmers market in Las Cruces. He said that’s where he felt immense support and was encouraged to start entering competitions.
Sukarno ended up winning on a state level in the first singing competition he auditioned for and then went on to compete nationally, where he ranked in the Top 15.
“I sang in front of 20,000 people, give or take, and I thought this was really cool. I want to do this for the rest of my life,” said Sukarno.
Once the pandemic hit, he took a break from performances, but soon found another outlet: TikTok.
“I got my first 100 followers and I thought this was so cool, then I got to 1,000 and now I’m over 10,000,” said Sukarno, explaining what gave him the confidence to end up signing up for American Idol.
After the first round of virtual auditions, he was selected to go to California and audition in person.
“I got to audition in front of Luke Ryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Ritchie, and I’m going to be honest — I don’t remember what happened. I kind of went there and my mind went blank. I was in the moment,” said Sukarno.
That performance won him a Golden Ticket — a straight shot to an audition in Hollywood.
“Coming from a smaller town like Cruces, you never think that it’s actually possible” he said. “If I can do it, I know that others can, so I just want others to put themselves out there.”
Sukarno comes from a military family, who often moved around the world, but decided to settle in Las Cruces, which he considers his home.
He is currently a junior at NMSU, getting his degree in Agriculture. He hopes to own a ranch one day and sing behind an independent label that will allow him to share his passion for country music.