Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Chat with Crystal Bowersox

OnMedia: A Chat with Crystal Bowersox
By Tim Cuprisin, Media Columnist

This year's crop of "American Idol" finalists stop at Summerfest during their post-show tour, Idols LIVE.

And the woman who almost won, second-place finisher Crystal Bowersox, tells me she's looking forward to the outdoor venue on a hot summer night, as well as connecting with some Milwaukee friends.

"I'm a summertime girl," she says. "I like the sunshine, I like bein' all sweaty and gross."

It's the kind of answer you'd expect from the 24-year-old Bowersox, who finished just behind Lee DeWyze, the suburban Chicago singer who picked up the ninth "Idol" crown last month. From her audition and through the process that ended just two weeks ago, she's always seemed comfortable with who she is.

"I kind of agree with that statement," she tells me in a phone conversation during a break in rehearsals for the coming tour. "I've been comfortable in my skin for a long time, I know who I am as a human, as a person and a musician."

I follow up with my theory that it's, in fact, better that she finished second. Without an "Idol" recording contract, she'll have more freedom to do her music.

"I don't think by Lee winning that he has any less freedom," she says. Bowersox clearly sees a kindred spirit in the 24-year-old DeWyze.

"We're from the same school of music, singer-songwriter," she says. "I think our voices fit really well together. "

The pair did a memorable duet near the end of the competition, and while she says both are concentrating on their solo careers, she could see performing with him.

For now, she's in the very beginning stages of putting together her own solo album after signing a contract with Jive.

"We've started talks about what songs are gonna be used, what kind of vibe we want," she said.

While she was clearly comfortable on the "Idol" stage, she says her own music might be a little different.

"My original music is more lower-key, a more folky vibe," she explains. The songs are "autobiographical," and her voice is "sweeter" than the raspy tone she did in the big songs she did on the show.

While she was comfortable in those performances, it appeared that she was uncomfortable at times with the competitive nature of "American Idol."

"I would say that's a true statement. To me, music's more about expression. The idea of a competition about music is strange to me."

But she knew what she what the competition was all about when she auditioned. "It's the nature of the beast," she says.

Bowersox's advice for the next crop of "Idol" singers: "Be prepared for a lot of changes in your life. You can't just hang, with a sun-up to sun-down schedule."

Her suggestions for improving "Idol" are few. She would have liked the chance to do her own songs, and "move the band down from the risers and have them on the stage."

Other than that, she admits it's a "well-oiled machine."

After her chat, it was back to rehearsals, including those group numbers. Bowersox always looked uncomfortable in those, but says she actually enjoys them.

"Nobody believes me when I say it," she admits.

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