I’ve always said that I’d like to feature more American Idol finalists on the blog, so today I’m going to start realizing that goal.
Okay, maybe I’ve never said it. But after today, maybe I will.
Because today, I’ve got Scott MacIntyre, and some excerpts from our phone conversation last week. Scott was an American Idol season 8 finalist, the only legally blind contestant in the show’s history (he has about a 2% field of vision. He’s also got an inspiring story to share, is a great Christian guy, and has a new book out just last week. He’s been making the rounds on television shows lately, but he also made some time to talk to me about Idol, faith, and his new book.
I had a fun time talking with Scott, and we’ve got a couple of copies of his book to give away, By Faith, Not By Sight too, so keep reading. (Oh, and there’s exclusive bonuses, just for you readers, that you won’t find anywhere else.) Lucky!
Scott, you had quite a resume built up even before Idol. You graduated college at age 19, were accepted to numerous Ivy League schools, were received at the White House, and were a prodigious musician. It almost seems like Idol was “extra.” Where does it rank on your list of accomplishments to you?
That’s a really interesting question. Without a doubt, Idol was at the top. It was such a different experience for me. I’m this classically trained guy, and here I am, probably the only one of my kind on this stage with all these pop singers. It definitely boosted my music career, made a lot of people more aware of me. I wouldn’t have that without Idol.
Simon was still on the show that season, right? Do you remember what the harshest criticism was from the judges?
Simon was still on the show. He left after season 9. And it was funny because Paula was the one criticizing me. She didn’t think I should be playing piano, just singing. And Simon really disagreed with her. It started quite a debate between them. So it was good to actually have Simon in my corner.
The timing of you being on the show was rather serendipitous, wasn’t it? It was one of Simon’s last seasons, and the show hasn’t really been the same since then.
It was, for many reasons. Season 7 was the first season that they began to allow singers to play instruments. I had not considered auditioning for the show before that. I just would not have been successful without my piano. Season 8 was also the highest rated season in the show’s history.
Your book gives us a lot of your “hidden story” that you didn’t get to share on Idol. Can you tell us about that?
One of the big stories is actually another layer to the providence of being on the show. At 19, I was giving the commencement speech at my college, and everyone was shaking my hand and taking pictures with me afterward, but my Dad had left to take a phone call. I met him afterward, and he had just gotten off the phone with my doctors.
The news was that I had kidney failure.
It was an awful thing because I was dying. I spent the next year on dialysis, which means sitting for hours and hours on end, three days a week. And my thing, my music was taken from me. I couldn’t play or tour. I thought my life was over.
But after a year of that, I got a new kidney, from the wife of my former piano teacher. And I recovered and a year later, I was onstage at Idol.
What have you been doing since the show?
I’ve been touring and recording new music. And I’ve spent a lot of time writing the book. I’ve probably read it through twenty times. I just found it out on the shelf today. Later, I think I’ll grab some copies and just start handing them out.
What else can we expect from the book?
It’s a memoir, but it really has something for everyone. There’s a love story, there’s an emergency room drama. It’s a story about faith. There’s the backstage stories for Idol fans. I really think there’s something in the book that everyone will find engaging, and also inspiring.
What do you want readers to walk away from your book with?
My whole life has seemed like I was on a mountain and down in a valley at the same time. But it doesn’t matter what hill you have to climb or what obstacles you have to overcome. My story is one of encouragement. Even when things look dark and you think that your life is over, something might be around the corner, so don’t give up.