AMERICAN FIRE: JORDAN SOUTHERLAND
I've been doing these Idol contestant interviews for a while now. Regular Ramblings readers by now have come to expect inside information directly from Idol contestants to be found here. I have sought out many of the contestants to speak with personally in order to give you the whole story behind the phenomenon that is American Idol.
But every once in a while, a contestant seeks me out. Jordan Southerland has been eagerly awaiting his chance to plop down on the Musical Ramblings couch and tell us his story. And tell he has, as you will soon see. I do have to apologize to him for taking so long to get the interview done. It was well worth the wait though, as he had plenty to tell us about his Idol experience, as well as his upcoming efforts.
You may remember Jordan as the guy who auditioned in a fireman's uniform. I said in an early review of the Greensboro talent this year that I thought that Jordan was a really good singer, and the judges agreed with me and sent him to Hollywood. He sang a beautiful version of Josh Groban's "You Bring Me Up." Simon Cowell will be the first to tell you that even though he's a big fan of that song, he usually ends up hating it by the end of auditions. He didn't hate Jordan's version of it, though.
Jordan went on to Hollywood, but did not make the Top 24. But that has freed him up to pursue other opportunities in other venues.
Without further adieu, here's our conversation!
J.D.: According to my sources, you were faced with the choice between auditioning for American Idol and a Christian talent competition called Exalting Him. What made you decide to go for Idol?
Jordan: Well first of all, Exalting Him 2005 was the Christian version of American Idol. I really wanted to audition for American Idol, due to the fact I had watched Idol since I was 14. So I just wanted to fulfill a dream and see what would happen. Speaking of Exalting Him, I auditioned about a month ago for the 2006 edition. I made it to the next round! I fly out to Atlanta GA in September to compete against 34 other singers.
J.D.: I hear that you won something called Net Idol. What was that all about?
Jordan: I didn't win Net Idol. I came in second and lost by just a few votes. It was just a "for fun" singing contest online, in the same spirit as Idol.
J.D.: Why in the world did you decide to come to the Idol auditions dressed in a fireman's suit?
Jordan: (laughs loudly) This is a long story. They didn't show the reason why on TV, so this is an exclusive! I auditioned in Chicago first wearing normal clothes. There were a ton of people who wore outfits to stand out, and they made it on TV. So, I didn't make it past the first round, but I was approached by a producer of the show right after I got cut, and they said that I should definitely audition next year or at another audition city. So I returned to my senior year of school upset. I was sitting in computer lab, and I checked the site and it said that Vegas and North Carolina were on the map for the next auditions! I freaked out because I was only three hours from the audition city. This time I was determined to make it. So I wore the fireman suit in honor of all the firemen who helped out in hurricane Katrina and also in honor of my dad who is really ill, and who has been a fireman for over 20 years.
J.D.: So, you're not an actual fireman?
Jordan: No, and dont plan on being one. (laughs) I will leave that up to my dad. I do respect them a lot though.
J.D.: I really liked your performance of "You Raise Me Up," as originally performed by Josh Groban. Yet, the only judge who really liked it was Paula. Why do you think Randy turned you down?
Jordan: (laughs) I sang the first verse, and they didn't show it! Well, what you didn't see is this: I had a big conversation with Paula about being from a small town and chihuahuas. And Randy did like me! You gotta understand, I was the very last person to audition at the Greensboro auditions. I really dont know what else to say about it. But Simon, thank God, loved me!
J.D.: What's your favorite memory of Hollywood?
Jordan: Meeting so many friends, and just the rush of the Hollywood life. But let me tell you one thing: the food is AWFUL!
J.D.: Okay, time to get down and dirty...give us the scoop on the scandalous happenings in Hollywood. We want ALL the story.
Jordan: (laughs loudly) Let's just say it isn't ALL "reality" TV. For an example, my friend that I met, Cory Sellars, auditioned singing his song. And Paula, because his name was Cory, and making reference to Corey Clark, says "I'm already gonna hate you!" And then they paused the cams and told us to make a "OOOOOO" sound. Also, they don't air everything they shoot in Hollywood. One girl walked out and started singing "I ain't going..... You and You are gonna love me" and couldn't get the words. It was off key, and she wasn't allowed to sing her song choice. They made her song choice for her. Also Heather Cox and I were filmed a lot on move in day, Heather walked into her hotel room to find her bed covered in dirty stuff! The hotel forgot to clean it up! Also water cost us FIVE bucks. When a person gets cut, it's at like 1 AM at night, after a long day of auditions. We returned to our hotel rooms to sleep, and at about 4 am in the morning the producers slid papers under our doors saying to be outside at 7 am to go to the airport! That's crazy! OH, and all Hollywood contestants have to delete their Myspaces.
J.D.: I'm gonna give you all the names of the Top 24, and I'd like for you to tell me your thoughts on each of them. First, Ayla Brown...
Jordan: Eeek! Average! And only got through because of her dad.
J.D.: Becky O'Donohue...
Jordan: Didn't really get to know her. She's hot! That's about it! Needs to stick to modeling or acting.
J.D.: Ace Young...
Jordan: Awesome talent! Before Idol, he was on Half and Half and on a movie soundtrack, which I think he should have been DQed for, but he will have a good career.
J.D.: Bobby Bennett...
Jordan: Waste of time. He probably could do Broadway.
J.D.: Brenna Gethers...
Jordan: (laughs loudly) I don't really know her. I could see her as a TV personality.
J.D.: Heather Cox...
Jordan: Love her!! She and I became really close throughout the whole process. I really want her to make a Christian CD! Plus she is sooooooo gorgeous!
J.D.: Bucky Covington...
Jordan: Bucky is my boy. I'm not sure if he will make it far in country music, but he will sing country music.
J.D.: Chris Daughtry...
Jordan: This guy should have won! I thought he could sing his butt off. He will definitely be a Grammy winner and have a huge career. Great personality.
J.D.: Katharine McPhee...
Jordan: I thought she should have beat Taylor, but who knows. I think she will have a great career and star in movies.
J.D.: Kellie Pickler...
Jordan: (laughs loudly) She will be a spokesperson, host of a show, model, and actress. I don't think she's ready for a music career.
J.D.: David Radford...
Jordan: I didn't really get to know him. If he keeps singing, he may make an album. He should go to college and learn music education.
J.D.: Elliott Yamin...
Jordan: Great voice! He would have been a great American Idol. He is a good role model. I think his career will start off slow but grow.
J.D.: Kinnik Sky...
Jordan: Kinnik and I auditioned together. I would love her to make an album and be like Alicia Keys. But she needs a little vocal work.
J.D.: Lisa Tucker...
Jordan: This girl is amazing. We became friends in Hollywood. I think she is amazing and will grow as time goes by. Her parents are sooooo nice!
J.D.: Gedeon McKinney...
Jordan: I didn't know him. Good voice, I guess.
Jordan: He has his own style, for sure. That one song he did was way off key! I dunno about his career.
Jordan: She'll make an awesome gospel album, and be a spokesperson for Lane Bryant, and tour to sold out shows.
J.D.: Melissa McGhee...
Jordan: Love her voice on the CD! I like her better on the CD than live. I'm not sure.
J.D.: Kevin Covais...
Jordan: He'll have a career either with broadway, or outside of the entertainment industry.
J.D.: Patrick Hall...
Jordan: He has major talent, just picked the wrong song. In about 5 years we will hear something from him.
J.D.: Paris Bennett...
Jordan: Paris and I go way back. We met in Greensboro at a southern restaurant, and we signed our first autograph togeather. She was crying her eyes out when I got cut. I love her to death. We are the same age.
J.D.: Stevie Scott...
Jordan: I'm not sure what to say. She needs to model. She is soooooo tall in person. Nice personality.
J.D.: Taylor Hicks...
Jordan: I just don't know why???? People love him, people hate him. I'm in the middle. Do I think he will outsell Kelly and Carrie's albums? No.
J.D.: Will Makar...
Jordan: I keep in touch with him. He has a really good voice, similar to mine. I think he possibly could do Broadway and put out a CD in a few years.
J.D.: And just for fun, Simon Cowell...
Jordan: He's actually really, really cool! He is nice in person and funny.
J.D.: Paula Abdul...
Jordan: She's really short, but nice and funny, and a sweetheart too.
J.D.: Randy Jackson...
Jordan: He is my dawg! We cracked a few jokes.
J.D.: (laughs out loud) Sooooo metro!!! I could see him being in movies!
J.D.: What do you think was the biggest factor in your not making it into the Top 24?
Jordan: I was so nervous, and I think the final 24 were pre-picked from the start of the season. My voice was right on, but I think nerves took over. I could definitely stand against most of the people in the final 24 for sure.
J.D.: Do you feel that the competition was fair to you?
Jordan: I do think it was fair. I take everything as a learning experience
J.D.: Now that Idol is over and you're on your own, what is in the works for Jordan Southerland?
Jordan: Well Exalting Him 2006... I'm a semifinalist so far. I'm still eligible, so I may audition for Idol again. [editor's note: Only the Top 44 are ineligible for auditioning again.] I plan on going to college, since I've graduated high school. I am also working with producers and sending out my demo to different labels. I am determined to do what is in my heart, and that is to share my music with the world. I will one day. That's a promise! You haven't seen the last of me. OH! I have lost 20 pounds so far.
J.D.: Do you have any recordings available that fans can buy or download?
Jordan: Yeah! I have a cover CD done right now that fans can get. Just add me on Myspace, and listen to my songs and comment me! And spread the word. If you would like a CD, please message me.
J.D.: What direction are you hoping to move in musically?
Jordan: I hope to grow vocally and possibly learn guitar. I definitely would love to put out a album and tour! I just saw Kelly Clarkson recently, and she is amazing on tour! Go see her! I would love to do what she is doing.
J.D.: Do you think you'll try to branch out into other forms of entertainment?
Jordan: I would love to do Broadway, or do music in Disney movies. I would love to be in a movie. But my number one passion is music.
J.D.: Who would you say is your single biggest influence in both your life and your musical career?
Jordan: In my life, Jesus Christ is number one. In my music career, Rascal Flatts, INXS and Kelly Clarkson are tops. I'd love to do a duet with her. The girl can sing!
J.D.: I noticed that on your myspace page, you have a cover of a Casting Crowns song, and that you seem to be active in the Christian Contemporary scene. The question has been asked many times, why does Idol seem to overwhelmingly attract contestants who have strong Christian beliefs. What's your opinion on this?
Jordan: I'm not really sure. Christian artists want it just as bad as any other people. Our goal as Christians is to share our beliefs through Jesus. I think God has a huge impact on those of us who believe. C'mon, I don't think people could get through the STRESS of this contest without God!
J.D.: Where are you appearing next?
Jordan: I have a few local shows coming up. And if all goes well you will see me on TBN performing and hopefully you will be voting for me. Then again, you may see me in the American Idol line in Memphis! I will not be wearing a fireman suit! (laughs)
J.D.: What else would you like to let us know about your upcoming plans?
Jordan: I think I about covered everything. Let me know if anyone wants me to come sing for them!
J.D.: It's getting close to Idol auditioning season again, so what advice would you give hopeful contestants as they step before the judges and try to achieve their dream?
Jordan: Be yourself! No matter what you are wearing, sing a song with vocal range, and don't be scared. The judges are just three people like you and me. And keep in mind it is three people's opinion on one particular day. So good luck to those of you who go out this year!
J.D.: Kellie Pickler and Melissa McGhee both have boyfriends, but do you think you get me Becky O's phone number?
Jordan: I heard Heather is single, and I have her number! (laughs)
J.D.: Don't tempt me! Any final thoughts you'd like to share with your fans out there?
Jordan: One day you will see me singing live. I promise to give you an amazing show. Please support me! And thanks for all the prayers and thoughts.
Thank you, Jordan, and again, if you'd like to hear him sing again, contact him at www.myspace.com/jordanlakemusic and message him to find out how to obtain his CD!
Hey Jordan, if you need a buddy to tag along to the Memphis auditions with you, holler at me. I'm just over the age deadline this year, but I'd love to watch the process! And maybe, just maybe I'd be hanging out with the next American Idol!