At what point does a successful musical artist know they've truly made
it? When they breeze through a series of vigorous auditions designed
to eliminate 70,000 people? When they perform to millions of people
on television? When they see themselves in magazines? Or is it when
they work with the producers to the stars? It's hard to pinpoint but
you can guarantee that all of these stars will have had a record deal
for a very long time. Well, all except Josh Gracin. The country superstar
(eligible for this title following his phenomenal debut album sales)
fulfilled all of these ambitions and more through appearing on the highly
addictive American Idol 2.
He won hearts battling for the top prize of a record deal with his smooth
melodies; country rhythms, and ability to take knock backs from viper-tongued
Simon Cowell like the respectable marine he is.
Josh was born in Michigan, and grew up around 30 miles west of Detroit.
He grew up listening to the likes of Elvis but his first taste of country
music, at age 11, was when his favourite local radio station decided
to specialise in the genre. "At first they literally played 'Friends
In Low Places' over and over, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the
weeks and months after that, I really fell in love with country music.
Listening to Garth Brooks, Joe Diffie, George Strait, and Randy Travis,
I really started getting into it."
Josh joined the school band in high school after his parents' reluctance
to sign the release form allowing him to play sports, which at first
he disliked, but is now relieved he stuck at as he confesses if his
parents hadn't pushed him then he probably wouldn't be doing what he
During a temporary break up with his girlfriend Anne-Marie (now his
wife) and a realisation that he needs more responsibility and maturity
in his life, he walked into the office for the Marine Corps and signed
up. He stayed with this for years, until by chance he tuned into the
first American Idol show. With the permission of his superiors, who
probably didn't realise at that stage the huge amount of talent one
of their marines possessed, he decided to try out and beat 70,000 other
hopefuls to reach a place in the finals. When he was voted out he famously
brought his daughter Briana on stage. 'That was not something that was
scripted. It was just something I did.' He protests, 'I had done a lot
of growing in the past few years, and I wanted to show her that it's
possible to go from where I had been to where I was then, and that someday
she would be able to do the same.'
His self-titled debut album sold 57,048 units in its first week, making
him the most successful male country artist ever. Not bad. For any of
our readers who don't know who Josh Gracin is, or what his sound is,
where have you been? You have really missed out this time. Josh's voice
glides over the lyrics, blending in with the backing tracks perfectly
to create a country - pop sound.
His debut single 'I want to live' is track number one, and kicks off
the album superbly with a bouncy beat that makes you just want to sing
along. This then slides into 'Wheels', which reminds me slightly of
Irish country music (It would do with me being a Brit!) My favourite
song has definitely got to be 'Brass Bed' the melodies are calming enough
to relax you and just listen to the lyrics, a rare gift in an industry
so centred on image of the artists and backing tracks. Each track makes
you want to jump up and sing along.
I strongly suggest you listen to this album, if you weren't a country
fan before, you will be after. I am! If you want an album just to listen
to whilst lying on your bed, procrastinating heavily then this isn't
the album for you. This album makes you want to get up and do something.
I don't think I can possibly praise this album as much as it deserves,
all I can say is that its lyrics, its melodies, it's timing, is perfect
and inspirational. This is a revelation from someone like me whose extensive
knowledge of real country music is the soundtrack from Coyote Ugly.
Possibly Josh will have realized that he'd made it when his hometown
Michigan declared 'Josh Gracin Day' recently. Either way, the little
boy from Michigan who played in his school band is all grown up now,
and his dreams have come a long way.