THE FLORIDA TIMES UNION

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Tyanna Jones coming to Jacksonville with the American Idol Live! tour

Concert at the Florida Theatre features Top 5 finalists from the show's past season

By David Crumpler Thu, Jul 9, 2015

A lot can happen in a year, the saying goes.
For Tyanna Jones, that’s an understatement.

Last fall the Jacksonville teenager was one of many unknown hopefuls auditioning for “American Idol” in San Francisco.

By April, she had made it all the way to the Top 5 in front of a national audience.

Jones’ success earned her a spot in this summer’s American Idol Live! tour, which began this week in Clearwater and comes to Jacksonville on Wednesday for a show at the Florida Theatre. She’s on the bill with “Idol” winner Nick Fradiani, and the other top finalists, Rayvon Owen, Clark Beckham and Jax.

The tour is one of the many “super cool” things about her life these days, Jones said in a telephone interview about 10 days before she was scheduled to fly out of Jacksonville for a week of rehearsals.

“I think the show is going to be out of this world,” she said. “All five of us are so different, all of us have our own style of music that we like, and all of us perform differently.”

They’d already chosen their songs, she said, and the format of the concerts allows for solos, duets, trios and group numbers.

The tour is making stops in nearly all of the singers’ hometowns. Jones said she anticipates that she’ll get a little extra stage time to address the fans when she’s here “and make it kind of special, if I can.”

She came back to Jacksonville shortly after the “American Idol” finale in mid-May, but Jones didn’t return to life as usual. Though she’s spent some time relaxing with friends, she has also

been busy — in very good ways.

With his encouragement, she has stayed in touch with “American Idol” judge Harry Connick Jr.

The Grammy-winning musician told Jones “that I should start taking piano lessons and look into music because I could really make something of myself because I’m starting at such a young age.”

In mid-June, she and her mother went to New Jersey as guests of Connick and his family.

He invited Jones to perform at two of his concerts. Then she went to New York to be on the pilot for his syndicated talk show that’s in development.

“He and his family treated me and my mom like we were their family,” she said. “They were so sweet and nice, and his daughter Charlotte is, like, my new best friend now.”

Jones puts the whole experience in the “super cool” category.

The following week, Jones spent an evening talking with young people at the Sulzbacher Center, a shelter in downtown Jacksonville for the homeless. The event meant a lot to her: Jones and her family were homeless for several months when she was 4.

“I acknowledged that we had that struggle,” she said, “but I didn’t stay there because I wanted it to be a more positive, uplifting experience for them. So I just talked about how, even though the situation kind of looks like it’s bad right now, it’s going to turn out good.

“I was telling them to keep their faith, and whatever they believe in, keep their faith in it. And they can overcome anything.”

The kids were asked to write a short essay, titled “I Believe,” about what inspired them to keep going. The writer of the best essay — to be determined by Jones — will receive two tickets to Wednesday’s concert.

“I thought it was really cool to be able to talk to them because they’re just like me,” she said. “They’re kids, they want to grow up to be something.”

Jones said she doesn’t expect to go back to Westside High School in the fall. Instead, she’s looking at music schools in Dallas and New Orleans, at least for the first half of her senior year.

She said the education she got on “Idol” was invaluable.

“I always tell people that when they go on ‘Idol,’ or if they go on any singing competition show, when they leave, they’ll know whether they still want to be in the music industry because it shows you every side of the music industry.

“If you can’t handle ‘American Idol,’ then you probably won’t be able to handle the music industry.”