It’s that time of year when American Idol’s Top 10 hit the road, free from the pressure of performing for votes, and perform in arenas around the U.S. for the fans that voted for them each week.
For 17-year-old San Jose, Calif. native, DeAndre Brackensick, this moment has been about two years in the making. After just barely missing the cut for the Top 24 during season 10, Brackensick proved he was ready to take season 11 by storm with performances like Buddy Holly’s “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” from the Las Vegas group round and Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster” from Top 13 week.
In between rehearsing for the American Idols Live! tour, which kicks off July 6 in Detroit, Mich., Brackensick graciously took the time to speak with me about Idol, what to expect during the tour, and how he’s “pushing for music” during his post-Idol career.
So you guys are doing dress rehearsals today, how are they going?
It’s so much fun. The show is crazy. It’s coming along really, really great.
What are you looking forward to the most about the first show?
Just knowing that this is the beginning of what hopefully I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. It’s just fun to perform in front of big crowds like that and doing all this stuff with my Idol family.
Are you having any nerves about the first show at all?
A little bit. More like nervous, but like excited-nervous. I hope I don’t mess up.
You just missed the cut for the Top 24 during season 10, so what were you feeling when you were told that you had made the tour during this past season?
It was the best thing. Right when I made it, I could not even believe it. I was just sitting there; I couldn’t speak, couldn’t look, couldn’t do nothing. I was in shock the whole time, and I’m just so thankful for this.
Even though we all want to win, tour is what we push for. That’s the main thing that we’re looking forward to. It’s cool that I get to be in this experience and make it.
Do you feel like the pressure from the show is off, now that you’re going to be performing for your fans?
Oh, most definitely. It’s so much easier to do, like [performing for] a really big crowd, rather than a small TV studio with three main celebrities staring you down. It’s more fun, because they’re there to watch you and support you, so the pressure’s not there at all.
What is something that the fans can expect from this tour?
There’s a lot of talent this year and a lot of us didn’t get to show what we can really do. I’m really glad that we have an opportunity to come out and do what we do. Like Erika [Van Pelt] has an amazing voice. And how she sang on Idol didn’t really show as much as what she can really, really, really do. I think now we get to show off and [fans] get to see why we got picked for what we did.
Any hints at what you’ll be singing?
I’ll be singing a reggae song. So, that’s your hint!
With you guys performing 45 dates on the tour this summer, how do you plan to keep up the energy and keep it fresh for every show?
I think the drive is just the fact that we’re doing what we do. This is what we do, this is our passion. We got to where we were, because it’s what we love to do. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble keeping it going. I think we’ll have fun every night.
Being that you’re from San Jose and you guys are playing the HP Pavilion downtown (July 22) – how exciting is that for you?
I’m really excited. I’m always passing by there and seeing all the different people that perform there, and I get to be one of those people. So, it’s cool. And I’m really excited to come give back the love and appreciation that San Jose gave for me when I was on the show, just all that time and support. It’s cool, I get to come back and show it for my people.
What are some things that you have to have with you during the tour?
My comb, my ukulele, and my phone. I gotta keep in contact with my friends and my family. I miss them.
What has been your favorite part about your entire Idol journey?
The people. Just being around people that loved the same passion and love to sing. That was one of the reasons why I came back this year, not only to make it as far as I could, but for Hollywood Week and being surrounded by people who have that same passion. I love to sing with them. That’s one thing I really cherished through this whole thing.
This has been a big year for you, the Idol finale happened the same week as your high school graduation. How does it feel moving forward having accomplished so much, being that you just graduated high school?
Great, you know? Like everything is out of the way now. I went through my whole Idol journey. It’s great to know that everything is accomplished now. Moving on from that and not having all that stress from everything else on me, it’s cool that I know that I can actually do it and I can go off now.
What are your post-Idol plans after the tour wraps up?
What are my plans? Honestly, I don’t really know. I’m really pushing for music. Once my contract’s up, I’ll start doing that. So, hopefully later on in life I can come out with something. It won’t be soon and I accept that, but one day, you know, maybe in a couple years. Maybe a year, you never know. I’m pushing for music.
You can catch DeAndre Brackensick along with Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine, Elise Testone, Colton Dixon, Heejun Han, and Erika Van Pelt this summer during the American Idols Live! tour, which kicks off July 6 in Detroit and wraps up September 11 in Milwaukee.
For tour dates, check out American Idol’s official site.
Photo credit: Nino Munoz / FOX