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Mitchell's Culhane appears on 'Idol' site; auditioned on MySpace

Mitchell resident Rebecca Culhane is featured in this photo from a page of the "American Idol" website titled "Los Angeles Auditions." No information was provided with the photo. (Photo courtesy of "American Idol")

Fans of Mitchell singer Rebecca Culhane were disappointed they didn't see her on "American Idol" Thursday night, but there was a video interview of Culhane on the "Idol" website Friday.

It's been rumored for weeks that Culhane would be featured on the show. She told The Daily Republic recently that she signed a confidentiality agreement that forbids her from speaking about her involvement with the popular FOX program.

In the video on the "Idol" website, the 25-year-old Culhane said she auditioned via the website MySpace because it was easier than traveling to an audition site. She also talked about her love of writing music, her family and her musical influences.

"I think I was singing ever since I was a kid, but I never liked to sing out in front of people a lot during auditions in high school or anything," Culhane said in the video. "I really liked writing music, and I became passionate about it in the last few years, so I've become more comfortable with it."

The video does not give any clear indication whether Culhane has advanced in the competition, but it is on a page of the "Idol" website titled "Road to Hollywood." Hollywood is where the next round of competition is located.

There's also a photo of Culhane on the portion of the "Idol" website titled "Los Angeles auditions." There is no information provided with the photo -- not even Culhane's name. Beyond seeing her on the website, avid local watchers of "American Idol" have claimed they saw Culhane's face flash across the screen toward the end of both Wednesday's and Thursday's episodes. The show airs both of those nights on a weekly basis.

Culhane's voice is probably familiar to many people in South Dakota whether they realize it or not. Her original song "Outstanding" is featured in an often-played Sanford Health television commercial about a woman imagining a future pregnancy. Many of Culhane's other original songs and covers are available for free listening on Internet sites such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace.

Culhane is a Yankton native who married Mitchell resident Matt Culhane. She said in her "Idol" video interview that she's been married for six years and has two daughters. It's her status as a wife and mother that makes her "unique" in the competition, Culhane told her video interviewer.

"My family inspires me. I just want to be a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter."

Culhane's unwillingness to speak with the media is typical of "Idol" contestants, according to J. Paul Koehler, of Rapid City, who appeared on four episodes of the show in 2005.

Koehler said performers are warned they will be sued for millions of dollars if they provide details of their performances. He finished in the top 20 of the show and has since recorded and released CDs, performed in New York City and staged shows in Rapid City.

Koehler said the fact that Culhane reportedly appeared briefly onscreen toward the end of two shows is a good sign. The audition shows are taped in advance.

"When they show someone, it's usually an indication they're going very well," he said.

Since she moved to Mitchell, Culhane appeared in an Area Community Theatre presentation of "Big: The Musical" as well as in a musical review. She also sang a duet with Travis Johnson at a Dakota Wesleyan University show called "Wesleyan's Got Talent." Johnson won "Wesleyan Idol," another campus talent contest, in 2010.

Culhane attended Dakota Wesleyan University for a year and has lived in Mitchell since 2003.

Her parents are Don and Anne Swift, of Yankton, and she has an older sister, Elizabeth.

The Swifts are happy their daughter is getting some national attention, Don Swift said.

"I'm just proud of her anyway," her dad said. "She's an amazing kid."