HAZARD — American Idol’s fifteenth and final season is underway. The iconic singing competition, which airs on Fox television and strives to create America’s next big star in the music industry, will not come to an end without a touch of Perry County. Timothy Baker of Hazard was granted a personal invitation to audition for one of American Idol’s coveted golden tickets to Hollywood. This is a unique honor, considering that the bulk of American Idol hopefuls enter the auditions on their own accord, as opposed to receiving a personal invite from casting producers.
Baker’s invitation was well-deserved. At the age of 20, Timothy Baker has already established himself as a top singing and performing talent in Kentucky, with an arsenal of country songs that include originals written by Baker himself, as well as covers of timeless hits from some of the world’s most renowned artists. The title of Timothy Baker’s debut album is Let Me Drive and it is available for download on I-Tunes. Several of Baker’s YouTube videos, featuring him singing and playing guitar, have reached astronomical heights in terms of the number of views the videos have gained. Baker’s cover of Buy Me a Boat by Chris Janson has attracted more than 100,000 views. With credentials like these, Timothy Baker’s family, friends and followers had good reason to reel with excitement, when the invitation came for him to audition.
“Back in June I had received a message through my YouTube channel from one of the show’s casting producers,” Baker explained in an interview with the Hazard Herald, “She said that she had found my videos on YouTube and liked what she saw, and then asked if I had ever considered auditioning for the show. I asked for some more information on the whole process, and once I told her I was interested she scheduled me for a private audition in Nashville at the end of July. This audition was for a panel of six producers for the show, and after my audition they informed me that I would be directly moving on to audition for the celebrity judges in Atlanta in September.”
The celebrity judges are by no means on the B-list when it comes to fame and talent. After a long journey out of Appalachia and into Atlanta, Timothy found himself standing merely meters away from Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban. Most folks would be too star-struck to speak in this situation. Yet Timothy Baker was asked to sing.
“The Atlanta audition was split up into two days; Saturday and Sunday,” Baker said, “So beginning at 7:30 a.m. on that Saturday morning my family and I were placed in a holding room with about 50 other contestants and their families. I’m assuming that there was an equal amount auditioning on the next day as well, so around 100 or so contestants in Atlanta overall. As I went into the audition room in front of the celebrity judges, I was equally excited and nervous. Being a huge fan of Keith Urban and his music, just standing a few feet away from him was a surreal experience. It was hard to imagine that I was actually in front of the judges and talking to them after seeing them on TV for so long. After a few minutes of giving them my story I sang parts of two songs; one on guitar and one acapella, and then they made their decision. In the end I wasn’t given a ticket to Hollywood, but I was still happy with my performance.”
Timothy’s trek to the threshold of Hollywood is impressive for a young man, who is not yet old enough to buy a beer. Baker is continuing to pursue his education as a student of Transylvania University in Lexington. With so much time still ahead, Baker and the multitude of his music’s followers look at his American Idol experience as only the beginning of his career.
“Now moving forward, I’m continuing to write plenty of new songs and scheduling shows for this upcoming year,” said Baker, “Plans of a second album are in the works, but I’m still promoting my projects that are already available and making sure that word gets around.”
Along with I-Tunes and YouTube, Timothy Baker’s music can also be found on Spotify and Google. Those who prefer a physical CD over digital download can contact Baker through his Facebook page, facebook.com/timothybakermusic, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now that the dust has settled from his first major league audition, this is what Timothy Baker has to say about his American Idol experience.
“I’m blessed to say that I was a part of the farewell season of American Idol. Although I didn’t make it through in the competition, I thank God for giving me a chance to travel and to keep sharing my love of music with those around me.”
Country music fans are thankful that Timothy Baker has that chance too.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.