Imagine being 16-years-old and singing in front of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. in what many consider the greatest singing competition, American Idol?
For Lean Jean, that was exactly the situation he found himself in two years ago on the show’s 15th season, and it was one that saw him transform before America’s eyes.
“When I auditioned, I wasn’t really sure where it was gonna go,” Jean told Reality-Now.com. “I could picture myself on a stage, but that was pretty much it. As I went through the show and performed on these stages and met these amazing people, I really started to find my identity as a person and an artist.”
“My life has been sort of a roller coaster of emotions and discoveries about myself and my music.”
The experience opened his eyes to the music world, one that he used to just say as a vocalist but now sees in a different light. He developed a passion for the art of the performance, everything from the instruments to the technical and creative sides.
These were all things that take most young musicians to appreciate. American Idol certainly accelerated that for Jean.
“With idol being so eye opening, I definitely found it way faster than I ever would have,” Jean said.
When he came onto the show and won over the viewers (and judges) with his performances of Bon Iver’s Skinny Love and Ed Sheerhan’s Make It Rain along with his audition song, I See Fire, Jean was nothing more than a high school student.
He’s since graduated, but he does admit he hasn’t pursued his musical performances as much as he would have liked since Idol.
“I didn’t capitalize on my exposure and maintain the gift that the show had given me,” Jean said. “That’s one thing I do regret is not doing what I should’ve done to maintain what I had. Granted, I was a kid and I don’t think I was really ready and I guess on some level I was scared of what might of come from it all.”
That should be changing, though, as Jean received an artist grant from his local arts council to buy some musical equipment, allowing him to finally record and release the music he has been writing since the show.
He’s already released his first draft of his newest song, “The End,” which can be found on YouTube.
“My life has been sort of a roller coaster of emotions and discoveries about myself and my music,” Jean said. “Since idol, I’ve moved a few times, I’ve written a lot of music, I finished high school, reflected on myself a lot, and I’ve learned a lot about what I want to be and I still have so much to learn.”
In the meantime, Jean is very excited to see the return of American Idol this past week. He’s hoping to see kids just like him get the chance he had a few years back, and he has been actively watching the first few episodes of the new episodes.
Jean’s words of wisdoms for future contestants who make it to Hollywood?
“Stay true to who you are… and just don’t forget to sit back and say ‘This is amazing and I earned my place here’.”
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