If you have checked out my website, TheProSinger.com, you know I lead worship with my husband Danny. One Sunday morning after church, a beautiful young man with long dreadlocks nervously approached me, hands in pockets, cheeks flushed, and head slightly bowed. Of course I knew his name. He had grown up in our church and I had coached his dad, Renee, for a good while. Turns out Jason Castro comes from a long line of incredible opera singers. You should hear his grandpa sing! Anyway, back to my story.
With the humble spirit that was seen by all of you who followed him on season 7 of American Idol, Jason told me he was home from A&M for the summer, and was wondering if there was any way he might be able to help with the music, or if he could just sit and watch our rehearsals to soak up all he could. I knew him as a drummer. He had played in our student worship band during his high school years, but I had no idea that he could sing. Turns out neither did he! I took one look at that beautiful face and those dreadlocks, and offered up a silent prayer: “Please let this boy be able to sing so we can put him and his funky dreads up on the big screen and stir things up a bit!” I asked him to come and sing for Danny and me on Tuesday of the following week. He told me he wasn’t sure if he could sing, but he would come and give it try. All three of us were in for a big surprise!
On Tuesday, Jason came to the music suite, all sweaty palms and embarrassed grins. He opened his mouth, and out came one of the coolest, most textured, emotional, and beautiful voices we had ever heard. Our reaction to his singing surprised him. He really didn’t know he could sing! We were so excited about him that we asked him to sing in church the following weekend. He sang with us on the worship songs, and then we had him sing a solo for over 8,000 people! This was only his second time to sing in public and he did an amazing job. The people were so moved by his singing that we had email after email inquiring who that young man might be.
Jason asked me if I would work with him on his voice because he going to audition for American Idol that same summer. We began to discover what an amazing instrument he has, as well as the depth of emotion he is able to release through his singing. He asked Danny and me to help him pick songs for the audition. He couldn’t believe it when he found out that he had made it to Hollywood! That is when we began working together in earnest, helping him to choose songs and gain command of his voice. His third time to sing in public was on television for 30 million viewers of American Idol, immediately gaining him a huge group of fans. Imagine the excitement when our own hometown boy made it into the top 12! From 1 in 110,000 to the top 12, and he had only sung in public three times before he auditioned!
The schedule during the run of the actual show is unbelievable. It is hard to imagine the regime they put those kids through, and then expect them to perform new songs week after week, with barely any time to sleep, or even to have a moment to think. It is no wonder so many of them become so emotional and on edge. As Jason progressed through the ranks, we helped him with his song selections, arrangements and vocals, keeping in close contact with him throughout the whole process. His family graciously gave us their tickets to the show one week when Jason was feeling really down and was about ready to give up. We flew to L.A. and were able to see him several times before that week’s show. One night, he came to the beach house at Laguna Beach that some friends had allowed us to use, enabling us to work with him in person on some vocal issues, as well as to help him nail down his musical arrangement for that show. He was very nervous about it, and feeling worn out and oppressed. After a good, relaxing meal on the beach, some fresh air on our balcony overlooking the ocean, a successful vocal session, some encouragement, the company of good friends, and a time of prayer, Jason felt much better and was ready to tackle his performance.
Jason finished fourth that year, and many doors were opened to him. After much wooing from several big labels, Jason, now a more confident and seasoned performer, finally signed a recording contract with Atlantic records, and is currently on tour, promoting his current album. He is happily married to the girl he has loved since high school, and she travels with him when she can. My husband co-wrote a Castro family favorite with Jason – a song called “Wait.” He and Jason wrote it together in that house overlooking Laguna Beach.
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