Bowersox keeps eyes on ‘Idol’ prizeWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Crystal Bowersox won’t have to worry about keeping busy this summer. She is in the Top 10 on “American Idol” and will perform in the show’s tour.
“[The tour] means I have a summer job,” joked the Elliston native during a March 26 telephone interview. “But it’s bigger than that. People in little towns like my hometown who can’t afford to travel and see the show get to see it because we bring it to them.”
“American Idol” hasn’t changed who she is, Bowersox said.
Contestants have complete artistic freedom when deciding how they want to perform. They choose what they wear, what the stage set up is, accompanying music and arrangement, she said.
“When people think that’s not me, it’s not the case at all. I have complete control over everything. I’m not going to do anything I don’t feel comfortable with,” she said.
When performing on “Idol” it’s not about the stage or the audience, it’s about delivering the song in the best way, Bowersox said. When preparing for a performance the hardest part of picking a song is finding one that can be cut down to a minute-thirty, or a minute-forty without losing much of the story, she said.
“I try to choose songs that are lyrically rich and when chopped down in time you still get the story,” she said.
During her past two performances Bowersox has envisioned herself playing at The Village Idiot, she said. The oriental rug on stage during her “Me & Bobby McGee” performance was an homage to the venue and made her feel more at home.
Behind the Scenes
The contestants on “American Idol” are all friends, Bowersox said.
“We’re a pretty tight group,” she said. “We get along really well. We joke a lot. When you put a bunch of musicians together, it’s going to be fun.”
Bowersox shares an apartment with fellow contestant Didi Benami, and may soon be roommates with Siobhan Magnus, she said. Rooms have rotated as individuals have left the show, which is a good way to get to know everyone really well, Bowersox said.
Contestants on “American Idol” have a hectic schedule. Starting the day after elimination night, contestants begin rehearsing songs for next week, attend photo shoots and press parties, Bowersox said. It’s common to wake up at 6 a.m. and go nonstop until 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and even midnight, she said.
“I love it. I like being busy. If I’m not busy I’m bored,” she said. “I’m used to no sleep with the baby so it was a pretty easy to adjust.”
The toughest part about the show’s set-up for Bowersox is not being able to see her 14-month-old son very often. The single mother sees her son every few days for a few hours.
“Knowing it’s all for him really helps me get through,” she said.
Miley and the mentors
Seventeen-year old Miley Cyrus was the season’s first mentor on March 23.
Bowersox admits while she is a little too old to be a Hannah Montana fan, she has tremendous respect for the young singer and was able to learn from her.
“Our differences in musical tastes do not matter. She’s grown up in the business and knows it well. She’s done so much at a young age you have to respect her,” Bowersox said.
Bowersox’s philosophy is, “you can learn something from anyone.” Bowersox plans to learn more from March 30th’s mentor, Usher; she said she listened to his music growing up.
“I’m pretty set in what I like to play, but I listen to everything, hip-hop, country, jazz, blues, my tastes are across the board,” she said.
It’s good to take notes from everyone, not knowing for sure what genre she may end up in, Bowersox said.
Bowersox, who was hospitalized for diabetes complications early in the season, hopes to use her role on “American Idol” and any opportunities post- “Idol” to continue to advocate for awareness of the condition.
“It’s already been such a platform. Our venue on national television reaches into homes in the middle of nowhere. I also have access to all of the media outlets to reach so many more people,” she said.
Bowersox said that if she makes a lot of money, she wouldn’t live lavishly but would work with diabetes foundations and programs to keep music and arts in the schools.
“I would try to work with a foundation and give my income to that. I don’t need a big fancy house,” she said. “I don’t care how much money I make … Anything I do is never for myself.”
Bowersox said music was important to her and she knows it can help others. She said it’s sad that arts and music are the first things that get cut from schools.
“For me personally, I came from a broken home and rough situation. If I didn’t pick up a guitar or play piano I don’t know what I would have done,” she said. “Kids get caught up in things that aren’t productive. Playing an instrument or getting involved in a chorus program is a much better way to occupy time.”
When everything is done for the day, Bowersox tries to read as many messages as possible that are posted on the “American Idol” Season 9 contestant fan page as well as read her fan mail, she said.
One misconception Toledo has about Bowersox’s involvement on “American Idol” is that it would be better for her to lose, she said, as if that will aid her artistic credibility.
“People don’t want me to win because they think I’ll lose creative freedom. It doesn’t matter if we’re first, second or third, we still get to do what we want with our music,” she said. “I would enjoy winning, so please vote. I appreciate all the support and love I’ve received.”
“American Idol” airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. with results shows Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX Toledo.
‘Mama Sox’ already moving major merch
If merchandise sales is any indicator, Crystal Bowersox is capturing Americans’ hearts and is a leading contestant on “American Idol.”
A user-generated Web site, CafePress.com, allows customers to create custom designs to support their favorite “American Idol.” Bowersox and fellow contestant Casey James are top sellers for CafePress, according to Amy Maniatis, head of marketing for CafePress. Contestant Siobhan Magnus is also catching up in sales, she said.
“Since last week, more than 2,000 Crystal products have been added to the site. It’s clear her fans are rallying around her and her fan base is really skyrocketing,” Maniatis said.
This is the second year CafePress has offered “Idol” gear and the number of the designs around a contestant becomes a big indicator of who’s leading, Maniatis said. “American Idol” season 8 contestant Adam Lambert was a top seller the last few weeks of competition, she said.
The site allows fans to create their own designs on a variety of merchandise including T-shirts, buttons, boxer shorts and stickers. Customers are not allowed to use the contestants’ likeness or image, but may use their name or draw ideas from performances on “American Idol,” Maniatis said. A 24-hour moderation period prevents merchandise with images of contestants from being sold, as site regulators catch up with submitted designs, she said.
The site offers more than 8,000 Bowersox-themed designs. Top-selling designs include variations of “Crystal Rocks my Bowersox,” and “Pick Crystal” featuring a guitar pick. The site also offers an “Ohio loves Crystal Bowersox” design.
CafePress.com is a licensed fan portal for “American Idol” through FremantelMedia. Designers are given 10 percent of every product sold with their design and “American Idol” also receives a portion of sales.
‘Idol Gives Back’ supports charities
“American Idol” is sponsoring “Idol Gives Back,” a television fundraising event, April 21. “Idol Gives Back” will raise money for Children’s Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save the Children’s U.S. programs and the United Nations Foundation.
Locally, viewers can donate to one of FOX Toledo’s teams, donate to an individual, or create their own team. For more information about donating, visit the Web site www.americanidol.com/idolgivesback.
“Much like ‘American Idol’ gives hope and opportunity to men and women across the country with the chance of launching a new career, ‘Idol Gives Back’ gives hope and opportunity to millions of individuals across the United States and around the world,” said Gary Yoder, station manager at FOX Toledo. “This year, ‘Idol Gives Back’ has chosen five deserving charities to promote and support, allowing the millions of ‘Idol’ viewers to vote through a charitable donation.”