The singer is touring in support of a new album
There are three distinct periods of time in the musical life of Lee DeWyze, a singer songwriter from Mount Prospect, Ill.
The most notable may be winning the ninth season of “American Idol” back in 2010, when his cover of “Hallelujah” gave the judges and fans chills, and cemented himself as the favorite to win. That brought about a record deal with RCA Records and millions of new fans.
But pre-Idol, DeWyze was already building a nice career for himself, releasing two independent albums, “So I’m Told” and “Slumberland” that were critically praised. So even without his “American Idol” win, it appeared he was already on the road to stardom.
That leads to his current third act, the post-Idol years. Somewhere around 2013, the singer-songwriter put the show behind him, signed a new record deal, and saw success with the release of “Frames.” His song “Blackbird Song” was used on AMC’s hit show, “The Walking Dead,” and millions of new fans started listening.
Today, at 35, DeWyze feels that those coming to see him play and listen to his music have very little if any connection to the fans who watched him on Idol.
“I’ve been off of Idol for 10 years and haven’t been connected with the show for the last eight,” he said. “As far as what my career is now, it’s touring and songwriting, and to be honest, Idol gets your name out there, but it’s up to you to stay out there. It was a great experience at the time, but from the day I left the show, it’s been up to me.”
And he’s definitely taken the opportunity and ran!
Last month, the singer released a new album entitled “Ghost Stories,” half of which were created during the pandemic. DeWyze believes everyone has “ghosts that hover over our brains and in our hearts when we go to bed,” which led to the title of the album.
“When things first started to hit the fan, I was like, ‘I’m going to write all these songs and do all this music,’ but for a long while, I wasn’t able to do that,” he said. “I took up different projects until the time was right for me to finish the record.”
So, five of the songs were written before the pandemic and the others were written almost six months later, but the songs came together in a very reflective way.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to make an album that could be listened to from beginning to end, straight through, like a book,” he said. “For me, these songs felt like these 10 chapters, and people can kind of just scroll through them. I’m really proud of that, because that was my initial intent.”
He cites the song, “Parade,” as one that’s very much about “just getting through” and noted the latter songs were very much influenced by the world we lived in over the past 18 months.
“Every artist has one, and for me, I think this is ‘my record,’ the most complete record front to back that I’ve put out,” DeWyze said. “I believe so strongly in this record and so happy that I’m now able to go out on tour with it.”
DeWyze will perform at Jammin Java September 16, playing the entire new record and giving fans a taste of their favorites from throughout his career.
“I’ll also be playing some new covers, which I’m excited about, and some stuff from all of my albums; I know the stuff that fans love,” he said. I am on show 17 now since coming back, and it means everything to me. I fell back in love with touring again. I can just see how happy people are to be there, and for me, to play the new music, I’ve felt so appreciative.”
DeWyze grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor and other singer/songwriters, and always dreamed of following in their footsteps, both as performers and songwriters, and it appears his goals have come true.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about writing songs and going out and performing them,” DeWyze said. “That’s always my focus.”