Making an appearance on a nationally televised singing show is rare. Making an appearance on American Idol is more rare.
That is exactly what Middlesboro native Blake Branscom did. The Middlesboro High School junior made it all the way to Hollywood week before getting eliminated from the competition.
“They weren’t really looking for country this year,” said Branscom. “It felt like most of the country people didn’t get the recognition they should have, but that’s alright.”
For Branscom, a trip to American Idol was in the making ever since he was a little boy. He said he has been singing in church ever since he was little. He also learned how to play the piano and was in the school band.
“I gave up band so I could pursue my music career, but band was pretty fun,” said Branscom.
Interest in country music came when Branscom was in the eighth grade.
“I could relate to it,” said Branscom regarding country music. “I asked dad to get me a guitar and I got one. I’ve been playing ever since.”
Branscom heard about the American Idol bus tour in Knoxville, Tenn., and decided to give it a shot. He said he practiced for about a week before he auditioned. And, it paid off.
After staying overnight and auditioning, Branscom was one of about 15 or 20 selected to audition in front of the celebrity judges. That audition took place in Salt Lake City, Utah.
All three celebrity judges voted “yes” to move Branscom on to Hollywood week.
“It’s one of those speak-less moments,” said Branscom. “You see it on TV your whole life. You don’t think it can happen and it does.”
Branscom said he was most excited to call and tell his father that he advanced to Hollywood week.
As for auditioning in front of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr., Branscom said he wasn’t nervous.
“In all honesty, I felt like they were just regular people,” said Branscom. “I felt like they were just any other people I was singing for.”
Branscom said he sang during the second day in Hollywood week. His song of choice was “It was Only Make Believe” by Conway Twitty. The judges decided to go a different direction.
One thing Branscom’s father, Ron Branscom, said he was disappointed about was the amount of content American Idol showed for Blake. He said the show called and said there would be a segment for his son on the show and also recorded several segments in Middlesboro and Cumberland Gap, Tenn. The segment never made it on the show.
Since Blake Branscom’s Idol ended, he said he has been practicing. He has some sets scheduled for Lexington and London and may also be up for “Entertainer of the Year” in a competition at Dollywood. He may also look to make an album later this year.
Blake Branscom was named the Kentucky “Male Vocalist of the Year” and the national “Male Vocalist of the Year” in 2013. He is a member of the North American Country Music Association International as well as the Kentucky Country Music Association.
Anthony Cloud can be reached at 606-248-1010, ext. 1125 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN.