By Rhonda Cloutier
I had the opportunity to interview 5 of the Top 10 contestants from Season 9 of American Idol while on Tour in Duluth, GA, August 1, 2010 and the 5 sent out to meet the Press were all friendly and talkative but showing some signs of the busy Tour schedule.
Sleeping on the buses, doing press and shows almost nightly, I think they might have loved a day to just catch up on some sleep! But they are troopers and gave us their full attention, sharing a little of what their life consists of right now.
Crystal Bowersox, Runner-up of this Season’s American Idol, was my first interviewee. First impression: She is beautiful and her smile lit up the room! Fully accessorized, with jewelry on every available spot, she is a put-together woman! She wore a black top with a cutout in the back that showed off her sunflower tattoo.
I asked her what has been her favorite city to perform in and where she was looking forward to perform.
“Mansfield was my favorite because of the smaller, intimate stage – the front row was closer to the stage so I could see more of the faces of the crowd, not lights like in most of the venues.” Her hometown show in Toledo, where she might be singing her original song “Holy Toledo” is the Tour stop she is most excited about, followed closely by Chicago.
What other song would she slip into her set if she could? “Either “Holy Toledo” or another original called “Grey Haired Rock Star” which is about being happy no matter where you are.”
Best present from fan? A singing Elmo for her son and a Didgeridoo!
Next was Tim Urban, Mr. Sunshine. Tim talked the most of all the Idols, so I got a lot of information from him.
Favorite food or drink on Tour: Simply Lemonade – loves it!
Another song he wished he could add to the Tour: “All My Loving.”
What one song will be on his first CD? “PS” – I have already recorded it but needs a little revamping and tweaking, then I will rerecord it. Maybe “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley, as well.”
Favorite Scripture: Gal 6:14, As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Three songs on Tim’s iPod: “The Idea of You” by Dave Matthews, “In The Light” by DC Talk and “All The Right Moves” by One Republic.
Team Jacob, Team Edward, Team Bella or Team Jasper: “I’d say Team Jacob because I have had some girls say that Jacob is ripped and that I would give him a run for his money (laughs) – no, I’ll say Team Bella but I heard she was spoiled maybe? Who is Jasper?” I laughed and said “A vampire from Texas!”
What happens on the bus we don’t know about: No videos are allowed anymore on the bus. Where are “Late Night Sandwiches” filmed? “Random places.” Who makes the best “Late Night Sandwich?” “Big Mike does but it is how you make it that counts!” “Late Night Sandwiches” for those of you who don’t know, are videos of the Idols making various sandwiches after the show is over.
Tim is planning to move to LA with one of his best friends later in the year. He hopes to land a role in a movie or TV show (he already has an agent in LA) and plans to hopefully release a CD!
Aaron Kelly, Mr. Focused, was my next interview. This is a young man who knows exactly what he wants. I told him I thought he was going to be the next Justin Bieber – of Country music. He smiled and thanked me very much.
His favorite venue so far: His current hometown of Hershey, PA. He had 3 or 4 bus loads of friends, fans and family attend the concert – the energy level was amazing. Tampa, where he was born and raised and still has a lot of friends and family at, is where he is looking forward to perform. He is familiar with the stage there as he has shared it with other entertainers, performing for a benefit with the Charlie Daniels Band.
Favorite quote: “Don’t let the fear of falling hold you down.” He has this inscribed on a key chain and it kept him going throughout the year on American Idol. With another year of school left, he is hoping to work ahead on PI Cyber, an on-line program, so he can finish school early.
Nashville is calling his name, so he has put a deposit down on an apartment there and will move after the tour is over. He will be on his own, with his mom staying for extended visits. I asked him if Casey James would be rooming with him and he said no, but he might move out there. He volunteered that Country music is a good fit for Casey and that he reminds him of Travis Tritt.
What will he miss most about the tour: “Hanging out with the other contestants. I have loved getting to know everyone and I’ll miss being with all 9 of them.”
Tour reviews have hailed him as the break-out star of the Concert – he just smiles politely as I mention that and says thank you! Keep your eyes on Aaron Kelly!
Didi Benami, a tall striking blonde with wavy long hair, sat down to talk with me but not without yawning every few minutes or so. She was clearly tired but tried to remain chipper and alert.
She said she has super greens and orange juice to stay healthy and to give her a boost while on the hectic schedule. I asked what her favorite food on tour was – almost all of the Idols agreed with her that the catering is amazing; they take really good care of them but there is a special snack – the 4:00 cookies that “Cookie” Kyle brings out, that has them craving more. Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, whatever he brings by, they eat.
The inspirational quote that she lives by is “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Her fans have showed their enthusiasm and support by putting together a scrapbook, which was given to her in Boston. She said that was the best present she has received, along with a pair of Happy Feet slippers! Didi loves her fans and wants them to know how much they are appreciated but she said she is not a big fan of Twitter.
Recording an album is her goal; she has written 5 or 6 songs already! If she could record at Abbey Road, she would be very happy. Travel is on her to do list – Ireland, Israel (where she has relatives) and Germany, are some of the places she wants to visit.
What song would she add to her set if she could? “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac.
Last up was Casey James, Mr. Humble. Wearing a trademark blue shirt and his hair pulled back, he mentioned that he had zero sleep the night before after really rocking out in Kentucky. I wondered if I would be able to tell on the stage that night. Edit: Not to worry, if he was dead tired, it certainly didn’t show in his performances.
I asked a few questions I had been dying to know the answer to – his favorite Scripture and what song he chose for Top 4 night to duet with Big Mike on. His favorite Scripture is Timothy 1:19, Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. This Scripture passage is a clue into the character of Casey James; he lives his life based on those principles.
I had asked why he didn’t sing John Mayer’s “Gravity” on the show – he sang it during his Homecoming visit, which I got to hear and was phenomenal. His answer was that John Park had an amazing performance of “Gravity” earlier on in the show, and didn’t want to take away from that performance by singing the same song in the same season.
Regarding the Top 4 song, that will be a song that shall remain in the past. I told him I thought they should have sung “When Doves Cry” acoustic and he smiled at that one. Someday, I would love to hear him sing it!
The infamous amp was not unplugged during Top 3 like most of us had thought but he said he was not ready when the band started playing and had to scramble to get his guitar pick out.
The million dollar question was on my mind – has he signed with a record company yet? He said he couldn’t say. I even tried the nod once if you are, twice if you’re not – to no avail. I then asked if he would let me be one of the first to break the news and he said “Give me your contact information!” I was so excited that I could barely muster writing down www.viezine.com. I forgot to write a phone number or email address. So, if you read this Casey, I am waiting for the call!
Who would he want to tour with? He is so humble that he didn’t want to name anyone as to seem presumptuous! He still thinks he is just a guy who was on a TV show! I threw out that Adam Clark of Sons of Sylvia would love to duet on the mandolin – Casey said “I am nowhere near the talent of that guy (Adam) – I pick at it!”
What about Kenny Wayne Shepherd? I told him I met him on the plane from LA to Memphis after the Finale and that we talked about him. I said Kenny told me he was on the Finale a few years back with Constantine – Casey said “Wow, I had no idea.” His brother Billy wrote me that his mom had taken them to see Kenny perform when they were younger and Kenny autographed Casey’s guitar. “I played that guitar so much that the autograph wore off,” he said. Casey sang Kenny’s praises – he even plugged Kenny’s new CD and told me to buy it!
He asked me about a bracelet I was wearing, which I pulled off and gave him. It says “Save the Gulf” so I asked if he would ever do a benefit for the Gulf and mentioned Taylor Hicks, who has been doing PSA’s for Alabama and the Gulf. They would be a great pair to hear perform together! Casey spoke to him just the other day. He would love to have Taylor play the mouth harp on “It’s All Over Now” on his last song and is trying to figure out how to make that happen. “I might give him a call today,” he said. I told him to think about my idea. I would move mountains to organize a “Save the Gulf” benefit in September at Grayton Beach! Update: I sent a message to Taylor about playing with Casey in Grayton and yesterday, Taylor Hicks tweeted me saying “Book it.”
Whether or not I get the call, I know Casey James will be recording music for us to hear in the near future!
via Rhoda Cloutier | Vienzine.com | Photography by Joe Cloutier