Idyllwild Arts’ Grad Grabs ‘American Idol’s’ Golden Ticket

(from L) Juwan and Casey Abrams at a student film screening last year

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Last night, they came out in droves to celebrate one of their own.

The Idyllwild Arts’ Fireside Room was packed with excited students and faculty on Wednesday night, Feb. 3. They came to see the man of the hour, ’09  alumn Casey Abrams, audition for “American Idol” in Austin. He’s one of the top 40 contestants for Season 10.

“He did great!” said Kevin Sullivan, Director of Residential Life/Music Faculty, who attended the event. “There was standing room only, with everyone clapping and cheering for him.”

Kevin immediately posted a New York Daily News article about Casey on his Facebook page.

“They were saying good things about him,” Kevin said.

Casey (center) at the LA Club in 2009

In fact, the Daily News reported: “The show-stopper was a Seth Rogen lookalike: 19-year-old Casey Abrams. He scatted and wailed Ray Charles’ “I Don’t Need No Doctor” out of the room.”

This morning, there were more: The Huffington Post, Fox 11 News, the Press-Enterprise, and the Idyllwild Town Crier, all sang Casey’s praises.

“You can see Casey’s audition right now on You Tube,” said John Newman, Dean of Students at Idyllwild Arts. “And all of the comments are positive.”

You Tube commenters said that Casey’s got “soul,” and that he put in a good name for Ray Charles. One woman has even started an “Abranism” movement in Boston.

Back in Idyllwild, an “American Idol” film crew has been on campus lately, John said, talking to people about Casey.

“They must really be interested in him,” John said. “All this attention is good for the school.”

If you haven’t seen Casey’s “American Idol” audition yet, you’ve got to see it on You Tube. It’ll make you proud.

He chose, “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” a jazz song made popular by Ray Charles. He put his melodica down, but kept snapping his fingers. Each of the three judges, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler, got into the groove. Before the song was over, however, Randy interrupted Casey, saying that their decision was unanimous.

“You’re going to Hollywood!” he shouted, as Casey gave a huge sigh of relief.

Let’s just say that Casey had a few things going for him. First, he’s from Idyllwild, a small town in California. People love to discover small town folks. Secondly, he brought along a good prop, namely a melodica (which looks like an oversized harmonica) that no one had seen one before, namely Steven Tyler.

“That was wicked good,” Steven told Casey after the audition. “Now let’s hear you play that thing.”

Thirdly, Casey looks a lot like actor Seth Rogen, of “Pineapple Express.” They have the same hefty build and full beard. Lucky for Casey, he can ride on Seth’s coat tails for awhile.

Casey is well rounded. He can sing, play, write and banter with the best of them.

Aside from all of those “Idol” gimmicks, however, what it really comes down to is talent. Not only can Casey sing, but he can write music too. (Last year, he wrote a film score for one of the student films.) He’s grounded, well rounded and went to a great arts school. If “American Idol” is looking for a jazz musician, Casey’s got it in the bag.

Up next are “American Idol” auditions in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where Julie Zorrilla, another Idyllwild Arts alumn, is auditioning.

“Julie Zorrilla went to Idyllwild Arts for two years,” said John, “but we didn’t offer enough courses in pop music, so she left. While she was here, though, she was a classicly trained singer.”

The best thing Casey has going for him now is the support of his fellow artists at Idyllwild Arts. With a fever pitch, they will email, twitter and post all the news about Casey on Facebook and other social media sights.

All of this “American Idol” audition hype looks like it came out of left field. At school, Casey was always the quiet bass player, content to sit in the background playing jazz. Now, he’s a frontrunner in on the “American Idol” stage. According to Casey, everything was going according to plan.

“I’ve been practicing my whole life for this audition,” Casey told a reporter.

Look for Casey on TV again this Thursday, Feb. 10!

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

the attachments to this post:

Idol Casey Screening

Idol Casey Trio LA Club

Idol Juwan & Casey

One Comment to “Idyllwild Arts’ Grad Grabs ‘American Idol’s’ Golden Ticket”

  1. American Idol really needs to go away. How does anyone call this art?