Casey James just wishes his grandfather could have seen him there, he said. It's part of the down-home humility that has endeared the tall blonde Texan to millions on "American Idol" and around the country as he pushes steadily toward a promising future as a country blues musician and star. But where is "there?" "There" just happens to be the Grand Ole Opry.
According to "The Casey James Blog," James found out that he would get to perform on the venerated stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville before his single, "Let's Don't Call It A Night," debuted in August. Twenty-odd weeks later and the song is still charting on Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 (currently at No. 31). And in a week he will play the Grand Ole Opry.
When asked how he felt when he first heard, he admitted, "I was excited! I am very happy and proud to have been asked. At the same time I have to say that I am a little sad that my Paw Paw isn’t around to be there."
It would appear that quite a few Casey James fans are making a point of being at the Opry for his debut. James said he was aware of his fans and their dedication.
"Actually, yes I do know about it," he told "The Casey James Blog." "I like to stop by Twitter and catch up with what people are talking about and I love that so many of my fans are making the trip. It’s very touching to me to know they are as excited about this as I am. Their support is the only reason that I have gotten to this point, they deserve to be there as much as I do."
And what about pre-show jitters or butterflies when he steps out onto the stage?
"I never do have nerves," he said, "but then again this is the Opry."
Indeed it is.
And it has been a long road getting there. Although some Dallas-Fort Worth area people had heard of Casey James and his music, very few outside the state had ever heard of him until he took his shirt off in Denver after making the trip to audition for "American Idol" in 2009. After doing whatever it took to get the judges to let him through (judge Kara DioGuardi and guest judge Victoria Beckham thought he had model features and asked him to take off his shirt, thus winning their "yes" votes), he won over the fans, playing his guitar and giving many of his performances a bluesy twist. He made it to the Top 3 for Season 9, ultimately losing his chance to perform in the finale, which ended with Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze battling for the title.
DeWyze went on to win that season and post the worst debut and sales of an "American Idol" winner to date.
Casey James might have finished third and his fans may have had to wait considerably longer, but if the success of "Let's Don't Call It A Night" is an indication, he will most likely do a little better than DeWyze in the sales department.
James gives his inaugural Grand Ole Opry performance on Friday, Jan. 27.
(photo credit: Dr.fin(kelstein09, Creative Commons)