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'American Idol' tour to stop at Hanover Theatre July 28

By Richard Duckett
Telegram & Gazette Staff

Posted Jul. 23, 2015 at 6:00 AM

Rayvon Owen's singing career wasn't idling.


After graduating from Belmont University in Nashville (where he studied commercial music), the Richmond, Virginia, native moved to Los Angeles and started to get his name out there in the entertainment world. He performed at dozens of colleges and had other engagements such as a summer gig at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana. In November 2014, Owen released an EP titled "Cycles."


"I was making a living out of music, which I think in this day is a big deal," Owen recalled. But things were about to spin on a brand new cycle. Owen auditioned in San Francisco for the 14th season of "American Idol," which ran on the Fox television network this year from Jan. 7 to May 13. Owen made it to Hollywood Week, and went all the way to a fourth-place finalist.

Owen, 24, will be one of the Top Five Idols from season 14 (with winner Nick Fradiani, along with Jax, Tyanna Jones and Clark Beckham) coming to The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester on July 28 for the " 'American Idol' Live! Tour 2015" show.


Owen's expressive pop/soul vocal tones impressed right from the start. His singing of Katy Perry's "Wide Awake" at his audition was clearly an eye-opener for the judges, who immediately handed out a ticket to Hollywood.


However, this wasn't the first occasion he had auditioned for "American Idol." Actually, it was the sixth time he had tried out for the show - or something like that. "Not consecutively. I lost count," Owen said during a telephone interview from Clearwater, Florida, where " 'American Idol' Live! Tour 2015" was about to open its tour.


Owen was 16 years old at his first audition. He wasn't planning to do a sixth, but "I talked to my mom, and she said 'Why don't you give it one more chance?' I had nothing to lose. I'm very happy I did."


Watching "American Idol" each week "was definitely appointment TV for my family," as Owen was growing up in Richmond. Owen, his sister and mother "really became hooked. I wanted to audition, but I was too young. I would literally say to my mom, 'I'm gonna be on the stage.' That was it."


Owen had already experienced his "this is it" moment regarding singing. From about the age of 5 or 6, he sang with the children's Sunbeam Choir at Antioch Baptist Church in Richmond. "I just remember having my first solo in church and not really knowing much about music. I was so shy, but I got there and just let it out. I remember seeing the reaction of everyone in that congregation. Everybody was just so thrilled and shocked, the spirit was just moving in the sanctuary and from that moment I thought 'I've got something here.' From that moment on you couldn't really shut me up."


Owen was going to be a singer (and a song-writer), "American Idol" or no "American Idol." But the show "was the way to break in and it still is."


After getting his ticket out of the San Francisco audition, Owen sang "Ordinary People" by John Legend during Hollywood week. He performed during the "Showcase" week in the House of Blues with Sam Smith's "Lay Me Down," earning his spot in the semi-finals.


"It definitely was in a lot of ways different from what I anticipated," he said of the experience. "I didn't expect so much friendship and camaraderie among the contestants. I didn't think about that - we really encouraged and helped each other out."

Owen in conversation sounds totally unpretentious and easy to talk to, so one suspects that he was one of those friendly and encouraging contestants.


"American Idol" may still be a way to break in to the entertainment scene, but it won't be for much longer. The announcement has been made that season 15 next year will be the last.


"It's bittersweet," Owen said. "They have this thing 'all good things must come to an end,' which is true. But it's unfortunate. I wish people would have the same experience I've had. But it's leaving on a positive note. It's changed the game of music and created so many opportunities. I'm glad I got in there before it left."


Owen, however, is far from done with "American Idol" right now. The 2015 touring production runs all the way to Aug. 28 in Riverside, California.


Previous tours have had the Top Ten Idols and played at large arenas rather than the theaters that are generally lined up for 2015. Still, Owen sees everything in a positive light. "It's gonna be a show with some good energy," he said. "We'll get more up close and personal. We get to talk to them (the audience) and tell them our story."


Musically, "It's a variety of pop and rock and soul," Owen said. "There are a couple of arrangements I put together of pop songs."


He noted that, "Opening night is tonight (July 7) - only a few hours away."


Was he nervous?


"Yeah. This is the first tour of this caliber that I've ever done. But right now I'm pretty calm. In a couple of hours, it might be a different story."


Owen knows this is not the time in his career to get idle.


"Between the ('American Idol') finale and rehearsals, I've been doing a ton of writing and getting back in the studio, honing my craft and sound and really striking while the iron is hot," Owen said.

 

"Build a team and take advantage of everything that's happening. Release some music because now people want to hear it."
He hopes to have an album out early next year. Since he's now living in Los Angeles he might explore acting as well.


"I'm putting together a new brand, a new sound. It's gonna be great."