American Idol Contestant Visits York

Former YC student returns for Valentine's Performance

by Melanie Wilkinson
York News-Times

A throng of excited third graders welcomed former York College student and current contestant of “American Idol” Caleb Hawley on Monday.

Hawley, who made it through auditions and at least one round of competition in Hollywood, performed for the youngsters and YES staff in the afternoon, sat down for an interview with the York News-Times and then put on a concert at the college in the evening.

He moved on to shows in Omaha and Iowa on Tuesday.

Hawley is not allowed to discuss his progress on “American Idol,” as far as what’s been taped and not yet aired. But he could talk about experiences already seen by the television-watching public.

Hawley auditioned for the hugely popular competition/reality show in New Jersey and was met with great enthusiasm by the judges. Steven Tyler loved him so much, he gave him some back-up percussion via his hands on the table and offered some of his own famous voice at the end.

News-Times/Eric J Eckert Third graders at York Elementary School danced and sang along with Caleb Hawley this week. The “American Idol” contestant had the room abuzz as the kids (and teachers) gushed about meeting a celebrity. Hawley was accompanied by percussionist, Reed Grimm.

“To have Steven Tyler respond like that, it was great!” Hawley said. “I was really nervous at first — getting through the talking part and all that. Once I started singing, I wasn’t nervous any longer, and when I saw his reaction, I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got this,’ and just went with it. That’s when I knew he knew the song and it worked out great.”

Being in front of Tyler and co-judges Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, “was a very surreal experience. It’s actually really weird. These are really famous people that you only see on television. And then you see them in person — and the strangest part is that at that very point in time, they are dedicating all their attention to you. It’s the strangest thing.”

He says it was also “odd” to hear the glamorous Lopez call him “cute.”

“That was a strange moment,” Hawley said, laughing. “You know, I actually didn’t even remember that. I really didn’t realize it happened until I was watching when the show aired. That was a proud moment — I knew my guy friends would be jealous. I’m not used to hearing that anyway, so if the first time was from Jennifer Lopez, cool.”

He noted that Lopez is “just as beautiful, if not more so, in person,” and that “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest “is a total pro, he’s unbelievable. He comes in, says the perfect thing and then moves on to the next thing. He just nails it every time, it’s pretty amazing.”

Does Hawley think that former “Idol” judge Simon Cowell would have liked him? “I have no clue about that,” Hawley said, keeping his response quick about the judge often termed as harsh and overly critical.

Since Hawley’s debut on “Idol,” he’s been receiving attention wherever he goes. Besides a rousing welcome at York Elementary (where the kids and teachers were more than enthralled) and at his old stomping grounds at York College, he’s been “spotted” on the streets of New York City, photographed and the topic of posts on various online locations.

“That is totally weird,” Hawley said, but he also noted that with music being his career (he’s been touring for three years already), the exposure has been invaluable.

“Regardless of how the ‘American Idol’ thing turns out, this is what I plan to continue to do, this is what I do,” Hawley said.

Hawley says he’s made some really good friends through the competition — and there’s several he thinks are especially strong contenders.

“There’s a couple of us that I guess are termed WGWGs,” he said chuckling, before translating. “That means white guys with guitars. Soulful white dudes. You can only have so many of those guys.”

Viewers can tune in tonight (Wednesday), at 7 p.m., on the Fox Network, to see if Hawley moves on to the next round. (click here to see Caleb's second round on YouTube.)

“No matter what happens on “American Idol,” it’s great to get the exposure,” Hawley said. “Who knows what will end up happening!”

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Hawley attended York College in 2003-2004 then went on to graduate from Berklee College of Music in Boston with a degree in jazz composition. Hawley, whose music doesn’t really fit a genre, is best described as soulful. He resides in New York City with his wife Samantha and dog Fargo.

Hawley is the son of Dale and Vicki Hawley (YC Class of 1975 & 1974) of Hudson, Wisconsin, and the grandson of Monroe and Julia Hawley of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

For more information or to hear samples of Caleb Hawley’s music, go to his website at Hawley’s first Idol audition can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.


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