Casey James auditioned for American Idol in the summer of 2009 in Denver, Colorado. As the story goes, Casey missed the Dallas audition so his mother, who had been encouraging him to audition, offered the use of her new truck if he would drive up to Denver for the audition.
At 27, Casey was almost at the age cutoff for the show. For eleven years he’d been playing in and around the Fort Worth area. He’d play in nursing homes and weddings, clubs, bars, and restaurants, anyplace where people might gather. He played acoustic sets with his mom, rock with his brother, country and blues and anything other kind of gig he could get. He performed individually and as part of The Casey James Band. But after eleven years of doing that — interrupted by a serious, almost career-ending injury — he was no closer to being discovered.
That back story is important to consider as you watch the following set of videos documenting Casey’s American Idol journey, starting with Casey’s first audition before the judges through to his making it into the top ten.
There is no footage from when Casey auditioned before the producers when he first got to Denver, but there is this photo of him in the large group of hopefuls:
There is also this article, dated April 15th, from a writer who took the picture and spoke with Casey both before and after his audition at the stadium and later before the judges. Here is the link. It’s a must read.
The first taped performance by Casey is the notorious Slow Dancing in a Burning Room.
Not shown during that first broadcast of his initial audition is how Casey told the judges “my whole goal in this thing is to make it to the next round, so I can show you guys what I do.”
When he got to Hollywood, he did just that:
I Don’t Need no Doctor:
Next was the group number phase of Hollywood week. Casey was extremely lucky to be grouped with Jermaine Purifory and Janelle Wheeler and they had a terrific audition. If you want to understand just how much this opportunity meant to Casey, and how genuine his gratitude is for this experience, and how he appreciated back then that American Idol was giving him the chance to change his life, it’s all here:
Next Casey took on Colbie Caillat, with great results. He may not have been wowed by his performance, but it showed a smooth, country-infused vocal that obviously convinced the judges that he deserved to move on.
Casey, like the other contestants, was then placed in one of three rooms, awaiting his fate:
Finally, Casey was told he was in the Top 24: