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American Idol winner DeWyze plays UI

BY ERIC HAWKINSON | MARCH 24, 2011 7:20 AM

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mp3 sample: Lee DeWyze

"Sweet Serendipity"

“American Idol” winner Lee DeWyze is inspired by such acts as Dave Matthews and Ben Harper — not only their music but their stage presence as well. The musician had the chance to meet Matthews recently in New York, which only heightened DeWyze’s inspiration.

“I’m not really a starstruck person,” DeWyze told The Daily Iowan. “But getting to meet Dave Matthews was a pretty big deal for me, because I really have looked up to him growing up.”

From one musician to another, Matthews sat down and gave DeWyze the advice to keep his head up and to keep writing songs.

“That’s what I plan on doing,” DeWyze said.

He will perform an acoustic set in at 9 p.m. Friday in the IMU Main Lounge. Sponsoring the concert is the Campus Activities Board, UI Fraternity & Sorority Life, and SCOPE. Admission is $10.

DeWyze said he never wants to emulate the work other artists do, but he does have much respect for the way such artists as Matthews and Harper carry themselves.

“You never see them in tabloids or anything, you know — they’re all about their music,” DeWyze said.

Looking at his idols and how they got their start in the industry, he decided to embark on a nationwide campus tour.

“I’m kind of just going where people want me, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the college campuses,” he said. “That’s great, you know, I love that, because I’ve always looked to guys like Dave Matthews and Ben Harper and things that they’ve done like that. That’s where I’m hoping to find myself in a couple years.”

Last year, “American Idol” fans gushed over the Midwestern kid. When he was declared winner of the contest, his hometown of Mount Prospect, Ill., and surrounding areas took pride in its newly crowned idol, and 30,000 fans welcomed him back in his first concert since winning the title. For DeWyze, it a great experience.

“Going back home is always a great experience for me, not only because the towns of Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, and Chicago have been great — but every time I get to go home, I get to see my family, and that’s always a plus,” DeWyze said.

He is now a touring musician with a record deal and a newly released album — something he’s dreamed since becoming enraptured by music as a kid.

Campus Activities Board marketing director Kathleen Kuhar is excited about coordinating a show that stands to be different compared with most acts that play at the university. She also believes DeWyze is a great fit to play in a college town.

“We think as the winner of the ‘American Idol,’ he appeals to people of our age group,” she said. “He’s from Chicago suburbs, which plenty of our student population can relate to, and he’s just a young performer.”

The “American Idol” winner said that it hasn’t been all “fun and games” in his first year under contract with a major label. The biggest challenge has been the work, but cutting his first album has made every sacrifice worth the reward.

Cowriting each song on the album, Live It Up, DeWyze is just doing what he loves — making music. Releasing albums, performing shows, and the whole process of being a touring musician is something he hopes to keep doing for years to come.

“I’m always keeping myself busy with my music, you know; I try to keep myself motivated,” he said. “The best way to do that is to really just keep working at it.”


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