In April 2002, when Justin Guarini auditioned for what became the phenomenal hit Fox TV show, ‘American Idol’, the 24 year old was just a number, number 126 in fact – a number he’ll never forget. Six months later he was voted the USA’s favorite male solo artist and after a seven week arena tour playing to over 200,000 fans from Seattle to New York with his fellow Idols, he reminded us just why he is adored across the nation.
Talent is a word banded around carelessly when describing artists, but it is a word that has been earned and is deserving of this young man. His remarkable voice and star quality was recognized at the very early age of four years old, when he was admitted to the Atlanta Boys Choir, two years early. Twenty years later he is set to become a huge music industry name and is living proof that talent, hard work and focus really do pay off.
Justin has music running through his veins. He is a music fanatic. “My parents gave me a free reign when it came to listening to music – I’ve grown up listening to all sorts of sounds from jazz and R&B to rock. I like to keep open minded,” he says. And he has. Instead of focusing solely on his voice, Justin decided that he wanted to probe and delve into all areas of performing arts from singing to acting, to give himself what he describes as “more knowledge of all areas of entertainment and better ability to perform.”
After leaving college in Philadelphia, where he studied vocal performance and theater studies, he moved to New York to focus on combining his acting and singing. Within just a few months, his talent again shone through and he was approached by scouts from Broadway and offered a role in ‘The Lion King’.
Justin, then 22 years old, did join the cast in their master classes, further widening his experience in the industry. However, he had a feeling that something better may be around the corner, and it was … ‘American Idol’, the biggest Fox TV show the USA has ever seen.
It was Justin’s mother who told him about the TV advertisement for ‘American Idol’ and within minutes he was on the internet to find out more. Weeks later, Justin joined over 1,000 other young hopefuls in New York, 126th in line, not quite knowing what to expect but feeling lucky. “I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I was excited and nervous – I had a good feeling about it.”
For ten weeks he performed live to a TV audience of millions and week by week improved his game and generated more and more fans. “My one defining moment was my first performance in front of a live audience – I felt something really going on. I knew immediately that this was where I wanted to be and I felt at home,” said Justin.
Not surprisingly, he was signed at once by Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment who brokered him a global recording deal with RCA and he started work on his debut album almost immediately. Talking about his musical direction, he says; “I want to make good music that makes people happy. I love soul funk music and raw vocals without too much post production which really lets me demonstrate what I can do.”
With his exciting new solo material set to storm into 2003 followed by him starring in his very own movie feature, ‘From Justin: To Kelly’, with American Idol Kelly Clarkson in April, the New Year looks set to place him firmly in everyone’s minds as a serious artist for the future.
With so much achieved already, what are his dreams and ambitions? “I’d like to break internationally.” In fact, he is already known overseas, but for a very different reason – his hair! “It wasn’t always like this,” he laughs, “I can’t believe I’m known for it in the UK – it’s always been very conservative but I let it go its own way in 2001 and it’s had a life of its own ever since. Hopefully the next time they hear of me, it will be for my music!”
For Justin Guarini his number really did come up!
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