Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898 |

Molly DeWolf Swenson ’10, formerly of Winthrop House and the Opportunes, recently appeared on American Idol, on the January 26 broadcast of Milwaukee auditions for the Fox TV show. Her mellifluous voice thoroughly impressed the judges: according to the episode recap by “The AI Insider,” Swenson “put her own unique, beautiful twist on ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay,’ and I figured this is the type of girl that is good at everything she does. The judges were impressed with how low she started the song, and with three emphatic yeses, Molly’s going from the White House to Tinseltown.”

During her time at Harvard, Swenson was involved with theater—appearing in Jekyll and Hyde at the New College Theater—in addition to singing with the Opportunes. A social studies concentrator, the Seattle native moved to Washington, D.C., after graduation to begin an internship at the White House. Despite “some quintessential intern administrative work,” she reports, the majority of her time has been spent on substantive tasks focused on candidate outreach. “One of the best parts has been the exposure to senior staffers,” she says. “Everyone I worked with was incredibly intelligent and industrious.”

Nevertheless, she decided to audition for the TV show this season because

graduating from Harvard last May meant I had no musical outlet for the first time since seventh grade. I missed singing immensely, having sung with two ensembles in high school, and at Harvard with the Opportunes and at Pizzaria UNO’s Monday Night Karaoke. The second reason was that, without playing an instrument or composing my own songs, American Idol was the most accessible way to assess if I had the chops to be a performer. 

Making it to the Hollywood round meant she had to take a short leave from her internship, but staff members and fellow interns were very supportive, she says: they “even helped vet my audition song selections over lunch.”

Yesterday evening, Swenson successfully handled her first appearance during the show’s Hollywood elimination round. TheIdol experience, she says, “has been surreal. I am humbled by the other performers; the level of talent this season is just unbelievable. I am a big fan of the new judges and the formatting changes they plan to make this year. I predict that it will be a very successful season and a lot of fun to watch.”