13. Nathaniel Marshall
Nathaniel sure had his share of drama during Hollywood Week.
First, he shed a couple of tears when forced to defend his song choice on day one, explaining that: “I want this more than anything. It’s on my skin. It bursts out of me every time I’m on stage.” The tears were back prior to the group performance, when his cohorts on Team Compromise, Kristen McNamara and Nancy Wilson, weren’t exactly getting along.
But the 19-year-old New Yorker survived and explains why the competition means so much to him in his Idol video interview. “I auditioned three times before. I busted my butt … Instead of going out and getting a real job, I just kept at it, trying to get into the music business, so I just started crying.”
Ah, yeah, there were tears after he got the golden ticket, too. If this guy hangs around long, we’re going to have to call on season seven contestant Ramiele Malubay and her box of tissues. But the guy has a voice, as evidenced by the video below.
14. Nick Mitchell
Say it ain’t so. This guy made it to Hollywood acting like a clown. What’s he going to do when the voting rounds begin?
-Everyone remembers Nick, aka Normund Gentle. If you think he has displayed a split personality on Idol, get this: He had two MySpace pages, one for himself, one for this Normund character. On his own MySpace page, he identified himself as a “comic-actor slash singer” who performs improv shows in New York and Connecticut. On Normund’s MySpace page, he bemoans the fact that “it has been very hard to find someone who recognizes this talent I have.” Hmm.
Meanwhile, the News-Times of Danbury, Conn., has been following Nick’s progress on the show. They profiled him on Feb. 6. They even tracked down his date for the senior prom, who described him “as alive and vibrant, always singing and always making people laugh. He’s just that guy.” The story also says Nick landed the lead role in the Brookfield High School musical each of his four years at the school.
As for Idol viewers, perhaps we can consider ourselves fortunate. According to his MySpace page, Nick has another character, Carmine DiNapoli, who we haven’t yet had an opportunity to meet.
15. Ricky Braddy Jr.
Ricky, 25, has been through this before, albeit on a smaller scale with less at stake. Back in 2006, he auditioned with 55 other students for a spot in the annual Commercial Music Showcase at the Belmont University School of Music.
A junior at the time, he earned one of the five spots and sang “Dying to Live” and the Ray Charles’ classic “Song for You.” A campus press release for the event said “Though Ricky’s influences are Christian, Southern Gospel and Broadway Showtunes, he will perform R&B … because he loves singing that style of music.”
The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City, N.C., has been tracking Ricky’s Idol run. Though he now lives in Nashville, Ricky’s a native of Elizabeth City. The newspaper quoted drummer Martin Parker of a local band Out ‘n the Cold as saying Ricky’s music talent is ”world-class good.” “He’s smooth — he’s the whole package,” according to Parker, who also said Ricky sang with a gospel group known as Step of Faith as a teenager.
As for why Ricky tried out for Nashville … well, he answers that question in his Idol video interview. “I was running a restaurant in Nashville, Tenn., and I just woke up after school and thought, ‘This is just not it at all.’”
16. Scott MacIntyre
Wow, you think those Idol gals we talked about yesterday had a good deal of studio experience for amateurs. This guy’s got them beat.
You remember Scott. Idol introduced him to us as the visually impaired piano player in the first audition episode from Phoenix. What they didn’t tell us is that he’s been performing for years, both as part of a family quartet known as the MacIntyre Family Singers and as a solo artist.
According to his Web site, he has independently produced six full-length CDs — some of which were at one point available on iTunes — in genres spanning pop, rock, punk, jazz and classical. He performed on the “Hour of Power” and at the Kennedy Center and has been profiled on CNN and in USA Today.
Some amateur, huh?
You’ll also recall this is the guy who graduated from Arizona State University at age 19. Videos of Scott performing as a soloist have been removed from YouTube, but performances of the MacIntrye Family Singers — also including Todd, Katelyn and Carole — remain and
are quite good. Several songs by the group can also be heard on their MySpace page.
17. Stephen Fowler
In his Idol video, Stephen says he was thinking about auditioning for American Idol for years, but kept putting if off. “Finally, my wife was like, ‘I’ll divorce you if you don’t try out this year.’ No, I’m joking.”
On his MySpace page, this 26-year-old from Cleveland says he’s been playing piano for 15 years, bass for two and singing “all my life.” He describes music “as the cheapest, most effective form of therapy I know.”
He told Idol he prefers singing gospel and soul music.
Meanwhile, there’s a reality TV personality in Cleveland named Isaac Stout. His MySpace page talks about a band he formed, including a gospel musician named Stephen Fowler, who plays keyboards, provides background vocals and helps with arrangements and production. Anyone know if that’s the Idol contestant?
18. Von Smith
Von’s claim to fame is a YouTube video of himself singing “And I am Telling You” that Rosie O’Donnell saw, prompting her to invite him to sing it on The View in February 2007.
Von, 22, of Kansas City, Mo., told the story about how his video became a YouTube hit on the show. He sang the song at the groundbreaking for a performing arts center and downloaded it onto the site. Then “Dreamgirls” came out. “Everyone starting searching for music from the movie,” he told Rosie. “They found me, a skinny white kid, singing the song.”
Apparently, they liked it. In an interview you can find on YouTube, he says the video got 400,000 hits. He also talks about traveling to New York and Los Angeles trying to make inroads in the music business and recording about an album’s worth of as-of-yet unreleased material at a recording studio in Atlanta.
Of course, who sang “And I am Telling You” in “Dreamgirls?” Former Idol contestant and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson, of course. And what did Rosie tell Von when he finished singing on the View? “You are better than anyone on American Idol. I gotta tell you that right now, kid.”
Nathaniel Marshall sings “Bleeding Love”
Just in case you needed another reminder why not to vote for Nick Mitchell, aka Normund Gentle. I’m sure he’s funny on an improv stage, but this is a singing competition!
MacIntyre Family Singers perform “My Heart Will Go On”
MacIntyre Family Singers perform “Rock My Soul”
Von Smith’s appearance on “The View,” including a performance of “And I am Telling You”