TL;DR - I've found peace with my American Idol experience. There’s a symbiotic relationship between the American Idol contestant and the show itself. All of us, no matter who we were or what we did before we were on the show, for the rest of our lives – at some level – we will be contestants on that show that dominated TV for a good 10 years (and dragged on for another 5 with decent enough ratings to still rake in crap-tons of money). For the 150 finalists – of which I am blessed to have been a part – we will always be in the shadow of the handful of contestants who transcended beyond the show to be actual pop or rock stars. Anyone who has kept up with me or has known me since my time on American Idol, knows that I have what could be considered a love / hate relationship with the show. I was naïve and had no clue what I was getting myself into when I tried out for the show, and I certainly did not realize the unintended consequences of being a part of the show – the questions I’d hear literally tens of thousands of times (“what was Simon REALLY like?”) or the feeling of being a commodity that came as promoters would ask me “So have you put out any music since the show?”. By the way, Simon was a sweetheart to me. But I had very limited contact with him. I realized about two years into my post-show career that I was basically a lower-paid, less good-looking version of a Kardashian. I was famous for being famous, not because of any significant impact my music or career made. To some people, the fame or the money is the point. For me, it always felt empty. I wanted more. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to be an artist whose music was something more than a part of the noise that the now-hundreds of post-Idol, failed albums had become. Looking back I feel stupid for my naivety. But I had been on the verge of “making it” for years before season 6 of American Idol. I’d almost been signed as a solo artist. My band had almost been signed twice. I just couldn’t get over the hump. American Idol felt like it was that final big push. And it was. But on the other side of the hump, I realized I’d always be this thing that I couldn’t reconcile with the artistic integrity I so desired: a game show contestant. And that is ultimately what I was – a game show contestant. I tried to shed the Idol label. I wouldn’t talk about Idol in interviews (in fact, I’m ashamed to say that it was a part of any agreement to do TV or radio for a while). And as the career at a major label level wrapped up and my life moved on, I began to find peace with this thing that Idol had become to me. I went back into ministry and realized that – while I was immensely grateful for the time I had in the limelight – that my calling, the meaning I had been searching for in my artistry was in leading people in worship ministry. I don’t mean my calling is to be on stage. My calling is to lead people, to pastor people, to love people. And that is what was so lost in that interim from my time on Idol through my artist career. In that time, my focus became my legacy as an artist – ultimately, for me, an empty endeavor. My legacy will be people. So – ask me five years ago if I’d do Idol over again and my answer would’ve been a resounding no. But now – with more context, more life, more time… I realize that my time on Idol brought me incredible friendships in Gina Ruzicka and Phil Stacey and Blake Colin and Chris Richardson – people I still care for deeply – and a family that the top 10 from my season became. But it also allowed me to work with Brown Bannister and to learn from Michael Blanton and to have Mitch White White as my manager for years and years. It allowed me to work with some of the best people in the industry – and by best I do not mean skill-wise (though they were that, too). I mean that Josh Bailey and Mark Brightt and Steve Jones and Chris Hauser and SO many others are literally the best people in the industry. And I got to work with them BECAUSE of Idol. But not only that. My time on Idol allowed me to get my job at Rocky Mountain Christian Church. And the relationships from that church will live with me forever. And that led to my time at Real Life Church in Valencia, CA – and the incredible, imcomparable Mark Keefer and Mandi Mandie Pinto-Czarneckii. And that led to Shoreline Church where I got to be mentored by one of the most incredible men I’ve ever known in DR Dickey and I got to experience worship alongside the most incredible team of volunteers – like Louis Barton, Lee Haley, Jenna Long, Lizi Elizabeth Ann Strauss, Mark Strauss, and many more – and the incredible staff (like Jake Packett) And now I get to lead the most incredible team at the most incredible church, and I know that everything before, all the seeming trials and all the good times and incredible experiences led to this. So – would I do American Idol again? Yes, yes I would. So, Nygel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell and the like – thank you for allowing me to be a part of your world for a few weeks in 2007. I will be forever grateful.
Jay is a good man who I haven't spoken to in a long time, but man do I love the guy. The tour and handful of shows I did with this band were some of my favorite times in the industry. Jay is just an incredibly funny and godly human being. There's a story of #JayWeaver, Sparky Roxx, a wife beater (no the t-shirt) and several guns that will live in my memory forever. So I guess I'm asking - would you join me in praying for Jay? Link
This is pretty cool! I am the Artist of the Month on the biggest Christian Music website in the world: http://www.newreleasetoday.com/artistdetail.php?artist_id=1152 Link
I'm feeling the same about the Super Bowl as most people feel about the Lost finale. I refuse to admit it happened.