Saturday, July 26, 2014

Central Heights grad back on ‘Idol’ this week

By DYLAN LYSEN, Herald Staff Writer | 2/3/2014

Eric Gordon has found his voice, figuratively and literally.

Originally a shy young boy from Richmond with a twin sister who was considered the dominant sibling, Gordon was forced to break out of his shell to reach for the dream he’s had since he was young, he said.

The Central Heights graduate, who now lives in Minneapolis, Minn., used singing as a way to express himself when he was younger, but now he’s using his musical ability to compete on Fox’s “American Idol.”

“If you want to leave a dent, you need to go out knowing who you are and not be afraid,” Gordon said. “I guess the more I grew up, the more I kind of figured out who I was and stepped out of that small comfortability I was in while I was in Kansas and kind of explored more of the world. I kind of found a voice in a sense.”

Gordon auditioned for judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. in Detroit, appearing on the Jan. 22 episode of the TV show. He impressed the judges with his rendition of John Mayer’s “Perfectly Lonely,” as well as with his hair and clothing style, winning an opportunity to compete in the next round.

Gordon’s quest to become the next American Idol continues either Wednesday with the show’s “Hollywood or Home” round, which is a surprise round added for the current season, or during the “Hollywood” round airing Thursday. “American Idol” representatives would not confirm which episode would be Gordon’s next appearance.

In the “Hollywood or Home” round, contestants will be forced to give an impromptu audition for the judges before they can unpack. Some will stay and continue to the Hollywood round, and some will be sent home immediately.

If Gordon doesn’t move on in the competition, he won’t be sent back to Richmond. Instead he’ll head to Minneapolis with is wife, Rachel. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t proud of his Kansas roots, he said. In his audition, Gordon listed his hometown as Richmond, rather than Minneapolis.

“I was literally floored he said ‘Richmond,’” Kim Gordon, Eric Gordon’s mother, said. “This was where he grew up. I’m so happy he said home! That was pretty awesome.”

Eric Gordon left Richmond in 2005 after graduating from Central Heights High School to pursue a career in nursing. He originally planned to go to college for music and even was accepted to enroll at a program in Nashville, he said, but could not afford the tuition costs. He then enrolled at a school in Minneapolis to study nursing, where he wrote and recorded music in his free time.

Gordon’s study plans were derailed again when he wasn’t accepted into the nursing masters program of his choice. With the opportunity to keep studying  closed at the time, Gordon reevaluated what he really wanted to do for a living.

“That was pretty much the crossroads for me,” he said. “Do I wait another year to try to get in here? Or do I go the direction I always wanted to go, which was to pursue music? I decided to do that and the next thing I know I have an audition with [‘American Idol’].”

Much like any new endeavor, Gordon needed support to follow his dream. He said his wife believes in his dream too.

“She’s always known how much music has meant to me,” Gordon said. “When I didn’t get accepted to the nursing program, she looked at me and said ‘Well, I think you kind of have your answer on what you’re supposed to do.’”

His wife isn’t his only support. Gordon has been hearing words of encouragement from home.

“Growing up in the town of Richmond, which is only 500 people, and then choosing anyway to try to do big things, regardless of that small-town upbringing, has resonated with people,” Gordon said. “Some people have reached out to me via social media just to let me know they have my back and really admire me for pursuing my dreams.”

His mother is one of those people. She’s seen a change in him since he began learning to play the piano when he was in the second grade — writing and performing since. Although he was a shy singer when he was young, singing in church choir, she said, she’s happy to see the change and recognizes he will do what it takes to reach his goals.

“I’m really proud of him for pursuing his dream,” Kim Gordon said. “Eric has persevered and he doesn’t give up. He does not give up. I’m just really proud of that.”

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