Friday, July 17, 2009

Michael Sarver is The People's Idol by Dertrick Winn Jr.

Even though I’m not a super huge follower of the American Idol movement, I have to admit to being excited to hear that the Music Journalism Campers would get a chance to interview some of the last season’s finalists. I wasn’t sure who I was going to interview, but I was prepared to sit down and talk with any of the 10 finalists. While my fellow music journalists were exchanging introductions with their newly assigned interviewees, I turned to see Michael Sarver be “assigned” to me as the one I would interview. I smiled in satisfaction as I faced him and shook his hand. For some reason I had a special feeling about this interview.

I watched Michael Sarver’s first American Idol audition at the beginning of the season, and was impressed by his singing skills. Despite the impression you get from his tall bulk figure, he’s actually a really nice guy.

We sat and talked for a while about his music career and his success in American Idol. When I asked him about when he first got into singing, he gave me this story about how when he was a kid, his life was very hard, or as he put it, “living hell." At around this time, he found singing as an outlet to sooth the pain. His mother heard him sing for the first time and responded, “Well that sounds good. Sounds really good,” And that encouraged him to sing more and more. “Music goes straight to the soul. You can make somebody happy, sad, mad, glad, ticked off, just by a song, and the simple fact that music is so powerful, that’s why I embraced it, and it’s become such a big part of my life and here we are now," he said.

He talked just a little more about his experiences as a child, which helped me to better understand his musical interests and influences. His favorite music is gospel music, and he has a strong Christian faith that keeps him always looking at the better side of things. “I listened to a lot of gospel music when I was younger because I grew up around the church," he says. "Michael English has been a big inspiration to me. Steven Curtis Chapman was an inspiration, The Wynans, all those guys. But, moving out of Christian and into secular where I was most inspired to dream, I would say Michael Jackson was number one in my whole life that inspired me to think bigger, to see what music can do for people. We’ve watched Michael Jackson touch people’s lives from here to the other side of the world and all the way back again through his music. We got to discover how great it could be, because it he was freaking amazing.”

Since all of the American Idol finalists were all preparing to perform at the American Idols Live tour, I asked Michael what was the most satisfying thing he took from performing live in front of a huge audience. “The fans. The response. The screaming…screaming they love you and things like that," he says. "The bond created through music with these people. It’s the universal language that connects us all. There’s this relationship that’s already built between you and the crowd. And it’s priceless when what you do makes someone’s life better. It’s priceless when what you do makes someone smile. I get a lot out of the show. I get a lot of gratification and validation from the people because they are the people who make us who we are. Without the people, we wouldn’t be here.”

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