He might not have made it on ‘American Idol,’ but Zach Person walked away with a winning attitude
Many past winners of the televised talent show “American Idol” have gone on to enjoy a life of celebrity, complete with record contracts and Grammy Awards. Houston blues-rock guitar player, singer and songwriter Zach Person hoped to be among that elite group of artists.
In November last year, just before his 19th birthday, and after months of auditions and a final performance in front of 3,000 people at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., Person learned he wouldn’t be on the “American Idol” fast-track to fame and fortune. He would return to his “normal” life in southwest Houston.
The televised part of the 15th season of “American Idol” that featured Person’s performance and eventual dismissal from the show didn’t air until February. But Person knew the outcome and was sworn to secrecy. He had time to think about his plan to get back to writing songs and booking gigs himself at places such as Big Ben Tavern in Sugar Land, the House Of Blues in Houston and the Music Nite on The Strand concert series in Galveston.
Even with all the “American Idol” hoopla, Person has remained grounded and optimistic, contemplating his expectations about the music business, while continuing to perfect his craft, record and perform music, he said.
“It was exactly what needed to happen,” Person said. “I might not have been able to record my latest album (“Working On Tomorrow”) if I had gone further with the show. They tie up artists for a long time with contracts that don’t always go anywhere.”
Person is grateful for the opportunity and is aware of the value, win or lose, of the exposure on the show, he said.
He made his first full-length CD available not long after his appearance. With its title, “Working On Tomorrow” (produced by Person and Brannon McLeod), the CD features 11 tunes penned by Person in the blues-rock genre in which he has established himself throughout the Houston area, if not Hollywood and beyond.
Person was born in New Jersey in 1996 but moved to Southern Pines, N.C., with his family a short time later. Person credits Baxter Clement, a music teacher and music store owner in Southern Pines, for giving him instruction and inspiration.
“Baxter told me to listen to a lot of different artists as my homework,” Person said. “I watched a YouTube video of B.B. King and Gary Moore doing ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ and I was hooked on the blues.”
In 2008, Person moved to Houston, where he began, at age 15, playing clubs, before graduating from George Bush High School last year.
Person last year participated in the Galveston Island Jam Camp, a weeklong music clinic for children and teenagers ages 5 to 18 and hosted by Galveston-born musician Hamilton Loomis. Person caught the ear of the camp’s production tech and Galveston’s Music Nite On The Strand promoter, Jeb Adame.
“I like Zach’s unjaded enthusiasm for performing and writing music,” said Adame, owner of U.S. Backline, a staging and promotion company also responsible for such events as the East Beach Concert Series and Party on the Pier. “His music is rooted in blues but with a fresh approach.”
Person will perform with his band at 6 p.m. May 14 as part of the 2016 Music Nite series at Saengerfest Park in downtown Galveston. The event is open to the public.
He considers his experience with “American Idol” as a springboard to the future and not a defeat, he said.
Person is staying the course and plans to carve out a living in the music business. His philosophy for success is simple and has served him well:
“Become the best and have fun doing it,” he said.
“Working On Tomorrow” is available on iTunes and at www.ZachPerson.com.