Area woman survives first round of cuts on ‘Idol’Written by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Crystal Bowersox, of Elliston, has the chance to showcase her talents another week, making it through the first voting round on “American Idol.”
Bowersox, on stage with her guitar and harmonica, performed “Hand in My Pocket,” by Alanis Morissette during the Feb. 23 women’s night.
Judge Randy Jackson said the 24-year-old’s performance reminded him of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.
“I like you, I like what you do. I like that honesty,” he said.
Simon Cowell criticized Bowersox’s choice of song and said there were thousands of girls like her doing that “outside subway stations.” He suggested she try something different, like a David Bowie song, and make it her own. Despite the criticism, Cowell said Bowersox is “refreshing” and will do well.
Bowersox grew up in Elliston, approximately 26 miles southeast of Toledo. She attended Oak Harbor High School before graduating from the Toledo School for the Arts (TSA).
Her former choir director at TSA, Jamie Dauel, said Bowersox has what it takes to become the next Idol.
“She’s not only a wonderful singer, but also a wonderful songwriter,” Dauel said.
Not every singer has what it takes to be a great songwriter, but Bowersox is talented, Dauel said. Bowersox can tell a story and create a hook that leaves a lasting impression with the audience, she said.
“You can listen to a song one time and it’s with you. You walk away humming it,” Dauel said.
Dave Gierke, Bowersox’s former TSA music teacher, echoes his colleague and said he thought Bowersox was “an amazing songwriter” the first time he saw her perform.
“She had a song she wrote about her dad. Just hearing it played once, it brought tears to my eyes,” he said.
Gierke saw Bowersox perform at Erie Street Market before convincing her to join TSA. Bowersox was unhappy with her current school and he thought TSA might be a better fit for her, he said.
Gierke described Bowersox’s talents as “raw.” Bowersox is an artist who isn’t super trained, but is a natural talent who has had to “hustle” to make it, he said.
“She is by far one of the most talented students to walk into [TSA],” Gierke said.
Both teachers described Bowersox as having the talent of a seasoned artist, with Gierke calling Bowersox an “old soul.” Her teachers hope “Idol” will allow Bowersox get the recognition she deserves and serve as a springboard for her to blossom as an artist and songwriter.
“I think she’s earned it and I think she’s real. There’s nothing bubble gum about her,” Gierke said. “American music has become cheesy sampled out crap and needs originality. I think Crystal can bring that to the competition.”
Dauel agrees that Bowersox doesn’t fit the “Idol” mold.
“The Crystal I knew when she was a student, isn’t a mold type of gal. She isn’t the person who cares so much about fitting the pigeonhole,” she said.
Dubbed “Mama Sox” by her friends, Bowersox had her son’s name tattooed on her back as a good luck charm during the competition. The single mother told “Idol” viewers that she is doing the show for her 1 year old.
“I think the major thing that made me change my mindset and try out for the show was my son,” she said. “I want to make sure my kid has everything he needs.”
After Bowersox’s performance on Feb 23, “Idol” judge Ellen Degeneres said viewers are “lucky” Bowersox changed her mind about the show because she adds something fresh.
In an “Idol” interview, Bowersox described best friend Nicky Watts as her most excited friend.
“Crystal warms my heart every time I listen to her sing,” said Watts, in an e-mail to Toledo Free Press.
“She deserves to be the next ‘American Idol’ because she touches souls with her voice and lyrics.”
Bowersox has played at venues throughout Northwest Ohio including Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi, Basin Street Grille, Village Idiot, Erie Street Market and Ottawa River Yacht Club. On her “Idol” page she lists Glen Hansard, Janis Joplin, Jewel, Melissa Etheridge and Bobby May as her musical influences.
Advice from another Idol
Toledoan Candice Coleman is an “Idol” alumna. Coleman, who was in the top 36 semi finalists during American Idol Season 2, said performing in Hollywood can be “nerveracking” and “exhilarating.”
Her advice to Bowersox is, “Stay focused and pray. That’s all you can do.”
Coleman watches “Idol” when she can and tries to keep up to date with contestants on the news, she said.
“It’s cool there is someone else from around the area on the show and she’s really good,” Coleman said. “We could really use some good news here.”
Looking back, the biggest adjustment in Hollywood was getting used to a regimented schedule, Coleman said. The contestants can do what they want within reason, but going anywhere requires security to help with potential stalkers, she said.
Coleman said performers need not dwell on negative feedback.
“The singers have to take the criticism at face value — everyone has good performances and bad performances,” she said. “You’re going to have days where you’re not on top of your game and you move forward.”
Coleman still performs locally at the Basin Street Grille. She has two children and is going back to school to become a lawyer.
Ten women and 10 men remain in the competition. Bowersox will compete live against other female contestants on March 2. The following evening, March 3, will be the male competition.
“American Idol” can be watched at 8 p.m. on FOX Toledo.
Fairness constrains FOX Toledo coverage
If it appears FOX Toledo isn’t covering Crystal Bowersox’s “Idol” run, it’s due to strict competition guidelines.
“FOX’s No. 1 priority, thus FOX Toledo’s No. 1 priority, is for ‘American Idol’ to be fair for all contestants,” said Betsy Russell, creative services director at FOX Toledo.
FOX affiliates covering “American Idol” must give each contestant fair coverage. If one is named, they all must be named, Russell said.
FOX asks its affiliates to follow strict guidelines to not jeopardize the fairness of the competition. If larger networks such as New York or Chicago were to cover just one contestant, it may influence voting and the outcome of “Idol,” Russell said.