Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#81 Jason Castro

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 81 American Idol finalist Jason Castro. He got fourth place on American Idol season 7. He performed at the wedding of Jason Mesnick from the reality television show called The Bachelor. He was 20 years old at the time of American Idol season 7. After his stint on American Idol, he was signed to Atlantic Records and his self-titled debut album was released on April 13, 2010. He also sang in three languages on American Idol: English, French, and Spanish. I think Chikezie Eze should have made the top 9 instead of him.

Jason René Castro was born to René and Betsy Castro on March 25, 1987. He was born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in Rowlett, Texas. His parents were originally from Colombia. He is the first person in his family to be born in the United States, followed by younger siblings Michael and Jackeline (Jackie), both of whom are singer-songwriters as well. His brother Michael auditioned for American Idol seasons 8 and 9, but was cut in the third Hollywood Round in season 8 and in the first Hollywood Round in season 9. Jason Castro's native language is Spanish. Though he normal speaks English, he has considered recording a Spanish album.Their father, René, is an architectural swimming pool designer and singer-songwriter.

Castro attended Rowlett High School where he was a left winger on his school's soccer team and an honor student. He received a 1340 out of 1600 on his SAT. At the time of his stint on American Idol, he was a junior studying Construction Science at Texas A&M University in College Station on a full academic scholorship.

Castro auditioned for American Idol season 7 in Dallas, Texas, with the song "Crazy" by Ray LaMontagne. Due to legal restrictions on his song choices, he received no air time until the live shows. During top 24 week, he performed "Daydream" by The Lovin' Spoonful. During top 20 week, he performed "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb. During top 16 week, he performed "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. His rendition of the song led to a surge of popularity for the Jeff Buckley cover from the iTunes Store, propelling it to the number-one spot on the iTunes singles chart. Buckley's version of the song sold 178,000 digital downloads in the week following Castro's performance, to debut at number one on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart. According to the March 22, 2008 issue of Billboard, this was the highest boost in digital sales a song had ever received after being performed by a contestant on American Idol. It was the first time Buckley's version of the song charted on a Billboard chart, as well as the first U.S. number-one song on any chart for Buckley, who died May 29, 1997 at age 30. Jason Castro’s rendition of the song propelled Jeff Buckley’s version to be certified gold and platinum as a single on April 22, 2008. Castro's rendition of the song remained on the number-one spot on the iTunes chart, but it was removed because the American Idol producers did not want any contestant to be favored.

During top 12 week, Castro performed "If I Fell" by The Beatles. During top 11 week, he performed "Michelle" by The Beatles. During top 10 week, he performed "Fragile" by Sting. During top 9 week, he performed "Travelin' Thru" by Dolly Parton. During top 8 week, he played an instrument while performing "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland after learning to play it in less than a week. Castro has also bumped the sales of Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Over the Rainbow" to #6 on the iTunes Top 20. Castro is the only American Idol finalist ever to bump another artist’s single to the iTunes Top 10 or to the Billboard chart. During top 7 week, he performed "I Don't Wanna Cry" by Mariah Carey. During top 6 week, he performed "Memory" by Elaine Paige. During top 5 week, he performed "Forever in Blue Jeans" and "September Morn" both by Neil Diamond. During top 4 week, he performed "I Shot the Sheriff" by Bob Marley and "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan. After those performed, he was eliminated from American Idol on May 7, 2008, ending up in fourth place. He was in the bottom once prior to his elimination, and that was on top 10, where he was in bottom 3 with Syesha Mercado and Chikezie Eze who got eliminated that week.

After his stint on American Idol, Castro appeared on the NBC program Live with Regis and Kelly, the NBC program The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the Fuse program The Sauce, the NBC program The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the NBC program Access Hollywood, the NBC program Today, Best Day Ever, the CNN program Larry King Live, the syndicated program The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet as well as dozens of FOX television affiliates and numerous radio stations across the country. Castro has been the subject of articles in newspapers and magazines including People magazine, Star Magazine, US, OK! magazine, USA Today newspaper, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and Billboard.

Castro returned to the Idol stage for the season finale, and was the only top 12 finalist who performed a solo. He sang an encore of "Hallelujah."

Upon returning to his hometown of Rockwall, TX, Thursday, May 29, 2008 was declared "Jason Castro Day". Castro was honored with a parade and a ceremony/concert. He was presented with a key to the city by the mayor of Rockwall and a US flag that flew over the nation's capital by Texas congressman Ralph Hall, who assumed office on January 3, 1981. Castro also performed 4 songs for the crowd, including an original song that he had written. The parade and concert was estimated to have attracted close to 15,000 fans and was the largest event in the city's history.

Castro participated in the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2008 where he performed "Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, and "Daydream" by The Lovin' Spoonful. He recorded "Hallelujah" in Toronto, Canada, for the Mexican-Colombian indie film, Amar a Morir, which premiered in the spring of 2009. On November 3, Castro shot a homemade video of himself performing the song "Sweet Medicine", an original song he had written and put the video up on his YouTube account. However, it is unknown if this song will be released on his upcoming album. He recently took part with the "I Am Second" campaign and openly discussed his Christian faith.

Castro signed a management deal with Hard8Mgt, a firm that manages other musicians such as Jakob Dylan, Dashboard Confessional, Augustana, and others.

Castro released his self-titled debut album on April 12, 2010, on Atlantic Records. He worked with songwriter, producer and former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, who judged American Idol seasons 8 and 9, and producer John Fields. On the album he also worked with DioGuardi, Guy Chambers, Martin Terefe, Dave Lichens (a member of The Heavy Steadies), Jason Reeves, Sacha Skarbek, and Espionage. Fellow Atlantic Records recording artist Serena Ryder appears with Castro on a duet titled "You Can Always Come Home", which Castro debuted at the Texas State Fair in a live performance, his sister Jackie singing in Ryder's place.

Castro performed "Over the Rainbow" and his second single "That's What I'm Here For" at the wedding ceremony of The Bachelor stars Jason Mesnick and Molly Malaney on February 27, 2010 for ABC's broadcast The Bachelor: Jason and Molly’s Wedding. He performed in an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful, which aired in July 2010. The Texas based singer-songwriter confirmed his Christian faith in his new release called "Who I Am". Five of the tracks are favorites from Jason's debut record, while the others are original songs exploring life, love, and God. The first single, “You Are”, is one song that Jason calls his "first love song to God." Castro also appeared in a testimonial video on "I Am Second" , in which he shares his story of his faith in Jesus Christ.

A large audition was held during the fall of 2009 in Hollywood, California for Castro's band. The band played their first live show together on September 25, 2009 when they headlined the opening night of the Texas State Fair. His band members are as follows: Stephen Kanicka, Jordan Critz, Ben Davis, and Jason Dering.

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 80 American Idol finalist. Like Castro, she is also a season 7 finalist. She hails from Dublin, Ireland. Before her stint on American Idol, she released her debut album under MCA Records, but she was dropped from the label in 2002. Her parents divorced when she was 14. She moved to the United States with her father in order to pursue a music career.  She is a high school dropout.

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