Let this be a lesson to all the schoolyard bullies out there: The person you're tormenting today could be a big, shining star tomorrow.
That appears to be the path being taken by Briana Oakley, an Antioch teen who wowed the judges on "American Idol" during Wednesday night's auditions.
Oakley, a 16-year-old junior at Carondelet High School, was rewarded with plenty of camera time in the Long Beach segment of the auditions, recalling how she was bullied so much as a grade-school kid that she would eat her lunch in the bathroom. Apparently, some of her classmates were jealous of Oakley, who was so vocally blessed that she sang on Maury Povich's talk show at the age of 4. (Oakley's family eventually moved her out of that school).
For her "Idol" audition, the curly-haired dynamo belted out "Up to the Mountain," Patty Griffin's folk tribute to Martin Luther King. The judges were immediately taken.
"It was fantastic," raved Keith Urban. "I mean good Lord, your control, your range, your light, your cool hair -- it all worked for me."
Nicki Minaj uttered the word "wow" six times before telling Oakley, "You're poised and ready for this moment ... All the stars have aligned to get you here to us today."
Said Randy Jackson, "You've got sheer, natural talent. This could be the start of something huge for you."
Mariah Carey also praised Oakley's vocal prowess and told her "I'm so proud and happy for you" for getting through those youthful travails.
The local teen now advances to the show's Hollywood round, where she'll be trying to become a finalist.
Oakley wasn't the only Bay Area resident to advance Wednesday night. Jesaiah Baer, 16, of Hollister also received a golden ticket even after having her audition on the Queen Mary interrupted by a fire alarm.
Once all the commotion ceased, Baer sang "Settle Down" by Kimbra and received four thumbs-up from the judges.
Some other highlights from a night of auditions in San Antonio and Long Beach:
BIG GULP: Vincent Powell, a soulful wailer from Austin, was back after making it to Hollywood Week last season. He rocked the room with "Rock Me Baby" and then was asked why didn't make it farther last time around. Powell recalled getting nervous when judge Randy Jackson took an extra long sip of his Coke during his performance.
VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: Savannah Votion, a single mom from San Antonio, wowed the judges with a beautiful and power version of "At Last." Said Keith Urban, "You had life in your voice. I can hear a lot of life going on like lots of struggles and highs and lows and triumphs. I can hear all of it."
COUNTRY STRONG: Miss University of Arkansas Ann Difani got in by way of nomination, thanks to her husband. She sang "Stronger" by Faith Hill and Mariah Carey liked how she had a country niche. Onto Hollywood.
PEACHEZ & DREAMS: Super quirky Papa Peachez, a 19-year-old from Jackson, Miss., described himself as "a big black woman trapped in a little boy's body." He sang his own song with theatrical -- and spiritual -- flair. Nicki Minaj immediately took to him, calling him a "superstar." But she had to fight to get him through after both Randy and Keith voted "no." Responding to Nicki's pleas, Randy changed his vote.
EMPTY CHAIRS: The Southern California auditions aboard the Queen Mary started off without Mariah, who was stuck in traffic, and, Nicki, who was rehearsing for the "American Music Awards." It didn't matter to Shubha Vedula, who did her best impression of Christina Aguilera and got two "yes" votes from the boys.
ON THE FRONT: Iraq War veteran Matt Farmer made a strong impression and not just because he auditioned with his miracle daughter in his arms. The adorable the 3-year-old was born after doctors had told him the medication he was on to treat a traumatic brain injury would probably leave him sterile. Farmer sang Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" and slew it.
GOLDEN VOICE: One of the most amazing auditions was turned in by Micha Johnson, who has a speech impediment, thanks to a routine tonsillectomy that sadly went wrong. When he spoke to the judges, his words came out like soft mumbles, but when he sang that voice simply soared. It was such a stunner that shocked looks came over the judges' faces. "This was the biggest fake out we've ever had," said Randy.
SMALL MAN, BIG PIPES: Matheus Fernandes is 21, but he looks like a little kid. Still, his take on "A Change Is Gonna Come" was mature and powerful. Said Mariah, "You hit me in the heart ... You can sing anything for me."
QUOTABLE: "Candy canes, strawberries, whip cream, rainbows and sunny skies." -- Nicki's assessment of sweet-faced charmer, Sanni M'Maimura, 16, who sang Michael Jackson's "Who's Loving You."