Following the elimination of his friend Dexter Roberts, it was then C.J. Harris’ turn to be cut from season 13 of American Idol.
C.J. spoke with reporters, including BuddyTV, about meeting Dexter for the first time (and what it was like to compete against him), his son, being called out for pitch problems, landing in the Bottom 2 yet again, heading out on tour this summer and what he expects his debut album to sound like.
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Meeting Dexter for the First Time
When we talked with Dexter Roberts last week, he mentioned that he knew C.J. pre-Idol and they had no idea beforehand they were both trying out for the show until they spotted each other at the auditions.
Now we’re getting C.J.’s side of the story, particularly on how the two of them first met. Apparently, it was at a beach. “I just remember Dexter walked up to me — I’m sitting there on the beach playing some acoustic — and Dexter’s like, ‘Hey, man. You want to play a song together?’ So we just got together … We started playing there and we went back home and figured that we’re only about 30 minutes from each other, so we played some places back at home and became really good friends.”
They may be friends, but what about having to compete against each other during these past several weeks on Idol? C.J. doesn’t look at the situation as if they’re competitors. “Me and Dexter just kind of looked at it — me, Dexter and Jessica [Meuse, who’s also from Alabama] — just hope and pray for the best from each one of us. But we just kind of look at it as we’re all artists trying to make it in this industry, and we’ve got to stay together.”
C.J. has found that his 2-year-old son, Jordan, is a big motivator for him to do the best he can on Idol and in the future. “To have him there in the audience and see my son, it’s a lot of memories,” he said. “[It’s] something that we can look back on five, 10 years from now.”
And when Jordan is old enough to understand this experience that his father has gone through, C.J. plans on telling him, “Always just go with your gut because that’s what you need to [do]. Your gut is going to be the most real to you, so just stay who you are, and prepare for life because it’s coming.”
It’s a Little Pitchy, Dawg
C.J. has received his fair share of criticism both by the judges and from viewers online when it comes to his pitch problems. And he claims that he wasn’t aware he had that issue before Idol. “I’m from a very small town, so I was playing for these people. And it’s kind of a you-love-me kind of situation, and I never really got a straightforward answer until I really got in front of [a] professional audience.” He went on to say, “I’m glad [the judges] told me because it was something I never even heard of. I’m self-taught with everything, so it’s something that I’m definitely going to have to work on, for sure.”
He was receiving help behind the scenes to work out these issues, “but I don’t know if it was enough,” C.J. said. “I don’t know if I had enough time to because I don’t know music, the keys and the notes like I should. I don’t read it, so I feel like over time [with] me just learning it that I’ll be better off than really just learning it over a few days.”
Performing “American Woman” and “Whatever It Is”
Aside from pitch, practicing “American Woman” was another issue altogether. “I thought it would be a great song for my voice. But I just had a hard time remembering all the lyrics, and getting up there and singing it without thinking too much.”
As for the Zac Brown Band tune, “Whatever It Is,” he felt that “It was just too low for my voice. It didn’t have the cry and the emotion in it like I wanted it to, and I felt like I could have done better.” On a positive note, though, he liked the melody and the feel of the song.
When looking at his performances as a whole this past week, he mentioned that he might have chosen a different song to perform. Not with “American Woman,” but “I think I could’ve picked a better country song [than ‘Whatever It Is’] to fit my voice.”
Being in the Bottom 2 and Facing Elimination
Looking back over the live shows, C.J. has been in the bottom group three times and then one final time the week of his elimination. When I asked him if he felt frustrated after continuing to end up there, he replied, “Yes, I got a little frustrated, but it just made me want to keep working harder, so it really brought out the best of me. … Put me in the bottom just to bring me up, make me want to work harder.”
And when in the Bottom 2 for the final time, he was there with fellow Alabaman Jessica. C.J. felt the results could have gone either way. But “if I went down, then I was going to hug her, and I was going to do what I had to do and [show] my respect because Jessica is an amazing person with a great voice.”
Touring and Recording an Album
C.J. has the summer tour to look forward to. “That’s huge. The tour is going to be huge for me because it’s going to show a different side of me, just performing and not having to worry about [looking at the camera] or anything; just go up there and have fun and give it everything I’ve got and be an artist.”
He never would have been able to afford to attend a concert, so being featured in one is a big deal for him. “I was just barely trying to get by. Right before I came to American Idol, I was doing everything that I can to make it in the music industry. And American Idol came along and really just changed my life.”
Beyond the tour, C.J.’s also looking forward to releasing an album. “It’s definitely going to have some country, and it’s going to be a mix between country, blues, soul and Southern rock,” he revealed. “So it’s going to be a mixture of all [of that], but I haven’t decided really which genre I’m going to stick to, but I’m swinging more towards the country industry.”
He’s also a songwriter. “I’ve written enough for an album so far, so I’ve just got to get it all together.” Hopefully, he finds a record label that will support those songs for his album.
And finally, C.J. also revealed that not only would be love to record a duet with his friend Dexter, but he also wants to move to Nashville.
American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)