Tuesday, September 20, 2011

#105 Paul McDonald

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 105 American Idol finalist Paul McDonald, the lead singer of The Grand Magnolias, originally known as Hightide Blues. He got 8th place on American Idol season 10. His music genres are folk, country, and rock and roll. He lived in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time of his stint on American Idol.

William Paul McDonald was born to David and Susan McDonald in Auburn, Alabama, on August 29, 1984. He was raised in Huntsville, Alabama. His father David was a clinical psychologist and his mother teaches occupational therapy at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. He is an alumnus of Huntsville High School, where he played as a wide receiver on the varsity football team. He participated in the school's play "The Wizard of Oz", directed by Mike Chappell.

In early 2005, McDonald and his fellow Auburn University student Jonathan Peers founded the Hightide Blues and began to write songs together. Joining them are Cragon Sims and Scott Rollins. They began to tour small clubs across the state of Alabama. In 2006, McDonald put his education on hiatus to pursue a full-time career as a recording artist. After a limited edition of their self-titled EP Hightide Blues in 2007, the band released a self-produced album, entitled Love Come Easy, which was a recorded in a recording studio that was formerly a boarding school. That recording studio was operated by David Briggs, and it was dubbed the House of David in Nashville, Tennessee. The album earned radio play from the songs "Dreamin' Alone" and "Let It Roll." The album also included a song called "Dancing with the Angels (Meg's Song)." McDonald wrote this song in memory of his late close friend Meg Ingram, who died of cancer at the age of 21. The band performs annually at the Meg Ingram Memorial Scholarship benefit concert in Huntsville, Alabama.

Hightide Blues has also been successful on the Internet, winning multiple awards on OurStage.com including 15 Top 10 placements, as well as reaching number 2 on Best of Pop for 2011. From 2007 to 2010, the band began to tour across the United States, performing with recording artists such as the Zac Brown band, Sara Bareilles, and JJ Grey and Mofro. Hightide Blues also played festivals such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Florida Music Festival, the Hangout Festival, and the Lynyrd Skynyrd Simple Man Cruise. During those years, Hightide Blues ranged about 150 to 200 shows annually.

In middle 2010, Hightide Blues relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, and campaigned to have their fans choose a new name for the band. The fans dubbed the band The Grand Magnolias. The groups first album under their new name, entitled The Grand Magnolias, was published during the time of American Idol season 10. The songs were written by McDonald and fellow band member Jonathan Peers and produced by Dan Hannon and Ken Coomer. The album has seen a sales boost since McDonald's stint on American Idol, at it reached the #12 spot on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and has sold over 9,000 copies by April 27, 2011. However, iTunes deleted the album from its store for no reason and the sales dropped 60% from the previous week. One week later, iTunes put the album back into its store again for no reason.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 104 American Idol finalist. He got 9th place on American Idol season 1, and was eliminated in a double elimination alongside EJay Day.

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