Chris Bandi can now tell the world what he's known for weeks and months. The 2008 graduate earned a "golden ticket" during American Idol auditions in June, but was eliminated on the second day of what's known as "Hollywood Week" on the popular singing reality show.
Because of the sheer number of contestants on the show, viewers in St. Louis and around the country would have to have been watching extremely close to know that the Chesterfield native-turned University of Mississippi Senior made it that far. Bandi was not featured in this week's programs but he was able to confirm on his Facebook page that his time on the show came to an end in episodes which were shot in mid-December.
Patch spoke by phone with Bandi from Nashville, where he's currently working on a five song album with a team who has worked with the likes of Keith Urban and Jake Owen.
"Everyone on the show is going to wish they had more time in the spotlight," Bandi said. "I still have proof." Now two months after that experience, he said he still thinks of it as a crazy and nerve-wracking trip that earned him the first 3 Yes vote of the judge's panel out of St. Louis this season thanks to his version of Walking In Memphis. In Hollywood, his cut at Ray LaMontagne's Jolene wasn't enough to stay in the competition.
Bandi's mother, Susan, an executive at Enterprise Holdings, joined him on the trip to California. She said despite the drama viewers saw on television this week, (sick, fainiting contestants, in-fighting) the environment at the Hollywood audition "was fun, very well coreographed and very well organized." While she was obviously proud of her son, who she said hasn't had any formal training, she was also impressed with the talent and excitement on display with the other contestants.
For mother and son, who is in his final semester at Ole Miss as a Marketing major, the experience was validation that there could be something to a possible career in music, outside the protective shell of friends and family. It also gave Chris a reality check when it comes to the life and hard work of a musician.
His time in the American Idol spotlight may have been brief, but it he's moving forward, undeterred. He's looking forward to shopping his album to record labels. "I can make something out of my musical career," Bandi said.