Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Crystal Bowersox: An American Idol success story

By EJ Young for Helium

Once upon a time, a little girl from Ohio did not get to live in a fairy tale world. Yet, her life could end up as a happily-ever-after story. It’s the elusive American Dream. The Crystal Bowersox fairy tale is a version of that dream. (Get Idol Live tickets Here!)

Crystal’s American Idol success story transformed a little girl without much magic in her childhood into a pop princess who spins music into gold. She remembers knowing she was destined to be a musician since the time she was 6 or 7 years old. By the time she was 10, she had some paying gigs. At age 12 she was organizing business cards and playing venues chauffeured by her dad. By 17 she considered dropping out of high school to focus on a music career. She stayed in small town Ohio long enough to get a diploma before setting out for the streets of Chicago where she eventually auditioned for American Idol.

Her story epitomizes the ideal of the American success story. She went from having nothing to signing a music contract in less than a year without selling out. She stayed true to her music and to herself, never pretending to be something she was not. She stayed classy but did not conform or bow down to the judges; instead she spoke as a confident young woman. Along the way she defeated huge obstacles to reach her goal. By reaching that goal she solidified a solid financial future for herself and her family. Call it the American Dream or a Fairy Tale but it’s a refreshing story of never giving up on your dream.

A glance at her childhood makes her happy ending seem even more remarkable. After her parents divorced when she was two years old, Crystal was shuffled back and forth between mom and dad. She was sick throughout her childhood due to Type I diabetes. She remembers sitting outside a pharmacy begging for money to buy insulin. She witnessed physical fights between her parents and her dad, who was the one she turned to for advice, ended up in jail after an argument with Crystal’s stepbrother. When her mother got frustrated she’d get angry. But, Crystal holds no grudges.

In spite of all the chaos growing up, she doesn’t hold anything against her parents. She said they did the best they could with what they had. Her tough times as a child help remind her that her son, Tony, won’t have to go through the same hardships. Being able to provide a better life for her son was the main reason she tried out for the show. Providing for her family financially was the motivation that got her through difficult times on American Idol. With the help of host Ryan Seacrest, Crystal realized she had the opportunity to change the lives of her family if she kept working hard.

In addition to overcoming an unplanned pregnancy and caring for her son, Crystal faced the consequences of her disease during the American Idol season. Due to diabetes’ related problems she was hospitalized and almost lost her spot on the show. She said it was the one time she had a fit and refused to be sent home. She told executives she didn’t have a problem going home if she was voted off the show but she wasn’t going home because she was sick. And she didn’t.

When Crystal went to Chicago after high school, she worked for a real estate firm and felt out of place. She ended up working as a waitress at a bar and pizza restaurant in Toledo called The Village Idiot where she felt more at home. When she wasn’t busy she took the opportunity to sing with different bands and graced the stage often. Co-worker and friend Nathan Woodward attributes part of Crystal’s appeal to her genuine nature. He said she has a great voice and people can see she’s giving her very best effort.

At age 24 she seems to have what many people live all their lives to figure out. “To me, the definition of success is happiness,” Crystal said in a recent interview with Redbook magazine. “And, as cheesy as this is, home to me is where the heart is. I’m very at home in my skin. I’m at home when my son is with me,” she added.

Her thoughts on marriage are also a contrast to the diva image. As told in Redbook, “If I ever do get married, I want my husband to be someone who’s honest, kind, generous, with a sense of spirituality. I’m not so worried about looks; I’m more attracted to someone’s mind than anything else.”

After her little Tony said the word ‘happy’ one morning, it almost made her cry. “. . . I’m doing something right and it feels so good, ” she commented. It does sound like the Crystal Bowersox saga has evolved into fairy tale status. She seems to be on the road to ‘happily ever after’.

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