It was a week or two ago that I came across a band called The Gray Havens. I listened to a few clips and decided to pre-order their first album, an EP that releases today. It turns out that they are readers of this site. I thought it would be fun to do an interview and they thought it would be fun to give you a copy of their album. So here goes!
Why don’t you start by telling me a little bit about yourself. Who are you, where are you from—you know, all of those details!
I am twenty four years old. I am recently married to my beautiful wife, Licia, who is a part of The Gray Havens as well. We live in Crystal Lake, IL, a Northwest Suburb of Chicago where we attend the Evangelical Free Church of Crystal Lake. Licia spends her week working part time for the church youth ministry and part time for Starbucks. I typically spend my week teaching voice lessons at two local High Schools (one of them being my Alma Mater), as well as performing dueling pianos in a group called Felix and Fingers. It can all seem a bit discombobulating and chaotic at times, especially in recent weeks, but it’s been a great learning sesaon for both of us leading up to the EP’s release.
A few years ago you were in the top-24 of American Idol (season 5). Tell me about that experience. What were some of the highlights of being on the show? What were some of the surprises? Any regrets?
American Idol was a whirlwind. I have catalogued the full narrative in a 5 part series of blog posts elsewhere, but here are some brief thoughts. The audition process was certainly interesting. You basically have to go through two rounds of audtions before you can stand in front of the actual judges (Paula, Simon, and Randy at the time). Interestingly enough, what actually landed me in front of them was a Louis Armstrong impersonation that I offhandedly mentioned I could pull off in a preliminary interview. In response to the question, “do you have any hidden talents,” I told an AI staff member I could pull off the impersonation fairly well. I ended up being asked to prove it in my executive producer audition. They laughed and sent me through just because of that (they did actually ask me to sing for real though). I think what put me in the top 24 after being able to sing well was the fact that I could diversify their contestant roster as a young guy singing big band and jazz. The greatest part of the whole show was the relationships I made with the other contestants. I grew pretty close with some of them, especially the other minors (we all had to go to “school” during the day). Also, having no idea what each day would be like when I woke up and sharing that experience with my friends was amazing. I loved it. My greatest regret is that I did an awful job of keeping in touch with those on the show, and have virtually lost contact with all of them. Maybe one day I’ll be able to start reconnecting again.