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Richmond's Rayvon Owen returning with 'American Idol Live!' tour

Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 10:15 pm
By RYAN McKINNON Richmond Times-Dispatch

Rayvon Owen says he is excited but nervous to perform in front of family and friends at the Richmond stop of the “American Idol Live!” tour Tuesday.

Rayvon Owen is coming home to Richmond, and he is bringing his friends with him.

On Tuesday, the “American Idol Live!” tour, featuring Owen and the other top-five finishers from the 2015 season, comes to the Carpenter Theatre.

The 37-stop tour kicked off July 7 in Florida, and Owen collaborated onstage with Clark Beckham, Tyanna Jones, Jax, and season 14 Idol winner Nick Fradiani. Owen performed his signature song, “Jealous,” a cover of the original by Labrinth, and “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry.

On the eve of the tour’s kickoff date, Owen talked about his “first big-boy tour” with characteristic enthusiasm.
“It’s great,” he said. “It blows my mind every day. You dream of doing something like this all your life.”

The tour is the culmination of a whirlwind six-month journey for the Henrico County native. Despite being an audience favorite who was saved twice by fans on Twitter, overriding the judges, Owen was eliminated from the show May 6, coming in fourth overall.

Owen said he wasted no time getting into the studio to apply what he had learned. Songwriting sessions led to Owen developing a new sound, and he has more songs in the works. “I’ve become more of an honest writer,” he said.
In addition to being more authentic in his lyrics, Owen said his mentors on the show helped him learn how to handle harsh judges and demanding expectations.

“One of the best pieces of advice I received was, ‘Chew the hay and spit out the sticks,’?” he said, meaning that when criticized, look for helpful feedback and ignore negativity. He also said Perry, who mentored him throughout the season, helped him learn how to handle the hectic schedule and lifestyle that came with “Idol” success.

The tour brings with it a welcome change of pace for Owen, who said the live shows will be a return to what he loves to do the most: interact with the crowd, crack jokes, and perform “without knowing that millions of people are watching on TV.”

Owen has mixed emotions about the local concert.

“You would think it would be easier, playing in front of family and friends, but it makes me more nervous,” he said. “But I’m excited to show them what I’ve been working on all my life.”

He described the tour as “a victory lap,” not only for him, but also for his mother and for all of his hometown supporters who voted for him and encouraged him along the way.

Fame has brought challenges to Owen, who is forthright about his Christianity. He said having faith is easier when faced with adversity, but once you have achieved success and “have a few bucks in your pocket,” it can be more difficult to remain grounded.

“You have to humble yourself and remind yourself who you are and whose you are,” he said.

In the midst of dealing with the pressures of fame, recording new songs and preparing for the tour, Owen has also worked on developing his brand. He has contacted a hat designer to discuss creating a line of hats, and reached out to contacts in Los Angeles about acting opportunities. Owen is looking for a role where he could act and sing, saying that a role on Fox’s hit hip-hop drama, “Empire,” would be ideal. He laughed and said he is not thinking of expanding into rap but would rather keep his own sound with whatever role he lands.

Owen said wherever his newfound fame leads him, he will not forget his roots.

“I’m just extremely grateful for Richmond’s support,” he said. “Even though I didn’t bring back the title, it’s been an incredible journey.”

Owen will have a day off while in Richmond and is planning to spend time with some students from his alma mater, the Henrico High School Center for the Arts; relaxing with family; and exposing his fellow “Idol” contestants to his favorite local treat: fried Twinkies at Galaxy Diner in Carytown.

“It’s so unhealthy, but I love it,” he said. “So bad, but so good.”