The crowd gathers. The high school bands tune up and the news cameras roll…each hometown is proud to have their American Idol finalist back and host a celebration for millions of viewers.
Only months before, American Idol finalists Crystal Bowersox,Lee DeWyze and Casey James were working their day jobs, squeezing gigs in whenever they could and barely eking out a living in paint stores, fast food joints, even in El Stations-their dreams still unfulfilled. Until they each took a chance…
Crystal Bowersox left her home in Ellison, Ohio and moved to Chicago at 17 to pursue a career in music. While there, she waitressed and sang in night clubs and occasionally performed on street corners and El stations to make ends meet. After the birth of her son, she moved back to Ohio and continued to sing in night clubs and slowly gained popularity. She moved back to Chicago, and that is when she heard about the American Idol auditions. Her small town is pulling out all the stops for Crystal’s return home.
In an interview on Fox Toledo, when asked about her newfound fame, Crystal says, “”It’s really strange. It’s cool. I’m grateful for everything, but it’s … really big. … If you ask any of my closest friends, I really haven’t changed at all. I’m really the just same person. I just wear more makeup now.”
Lee DeWyze worked as a clerk in a paint store in his hometown, Mount Prospect, Ill. The owner remembers Lee pulling out his guitar during lulls at work. There was no back-up plan when he left his hometown to audition for American Idol. He also had no apartment, for that matter. Returning home, for this high school drop-out is a personal triumph.
When a Fox Chicago reporter asked Lee who will win, Lee said, “”It could be anybody. Anything can happen, cause I’ve seen great people go. … I just hope I’m there.”
Casey James auditioned in Denver, Colo., but calls Fort Worth, Texas home. Before singing, and between gigs, he worked as a cook at Kentucky Fried Chicken. A motorcycle accident when he was 21 left doctors saying he’d never play guitar again. And yet, he’s in the final three. The oldest contestant to make it into the top three, he had been gigging for a long time before he opted to join the packed stadium of hopefuls. Casey missed the Dallas auditions because he wanted to take the cash over a long-shot.
Casey posted his thoughts about his American Idol experience on Facebook: “I’m so blessed. Thanks to God for keeping me alive 6 years ago. Thanks to my family for teaching me to be a decent person. Thanks to my friends for knowing me and always making me happy. And thanks to my fans for voting me here. You have all changed my life.”
Before You Can Be, You Have to Think You Are
The first step for these three, and the other American Idol winners: Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Kris Allen, was to believe it was possible.
From now on, it’s up to America.