More video to come, but meanwhile, here's an article from the local newspaper serving Saline County (Benton & Bryant + a few smaller towns). This article took a while getting into this newspaper, but my guess is that Mr. Michel has been pretty busy nationwide in these past few days. When the article did show up in the Sunday January 28th paper, it made the front page. Hey, this is big stuff around here!
Also see the bottom of this post for an article and video from Fox 16, the Little Rock affiliate.
Bryant's Michel picked from Memphis audition for ‘American Idol'
Bryant's Sean Michel, 27, is heading to Hollywood to compete for the honor of “American Idol.” But he is already an idol to at least one person, his friend and roommate, Jacob Baggett.
Baggett is mentally disabled, but he didn't let that stand in the way of his own “American Idol” audition. “I wasn't nervous at all to try out,” he said. (continued)
Baggett, an avid drum and guitar player, traveled to Memphis with Michel to audition for the show.
The two tried out together the first time. Michel was selected to continue the competition and Baggett was not, but this has not diminished Baggett's support for his friend.
“He's going to Hollywood and I'm happy for him,” Baggett said. “I love ‘American Idol.' It's fun. I made some good friends.”
The two met when Michel was a student at Bryant High School. Michel, originally from New Orleans, moved to Bryant while in his early teens.
“I used to work with school-age kids at an after-school day care,” Michel said. Baggett was a student there, and the two met when Baggett was 10 and Michel was 16.
They also attended the same church, First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant, and their parents lived near each other.
After Michel returned from Ouachita Baptist University in the fall of 2001, the friends began spending time together and playing music.
At the suggestion of Baggett's mother, Michel began working with him at Easter Seals. Michel moved to Friendship Community Care Inc. in the fall of 2004, where Baggett was then a participant.
Friendship Community Care was established in 1972 to serve individuals with developmental disabilities.
Today, Friendship serves approximately 100 people in Saline County, according to Regional Manager Debbie Stehling. All are excited about Baggett and Michel's auditions, Stehling said.
“The kids all watch ‘American Idol,'” she said. “They love it and always talk about it.” (continued)
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Baggett and Michel have been roommates for about two years. Michel, who was accustomed to living the bachelor life, calls the situation “rewarding and difficult.”
“A lot of times we butt heads because I am seen as an authority figure,” Michel said.
Michel said he helps teach Baggett independent living skills, such as cooking, but noted that Baggett teaches him how to live.
“My job is to help him, but a lot of times he teaches me,” Michel said, “just through things he says and does.”
Michel is a firm believer in the Christian concept of loving others more than oneself. “That's when you learn,” Michel said, “when you stop putting yourself first.”
“Jacob teaches me to be real,” he said. “He is always himself. That is all he knows how to be.”
Baggett also encourages Michel musically. “We get to jam a lot,” Michel said, “which helps me because a lot of times I don't want to play and he does.”
Michel's music career began early in his life. “My mom started singing at church and I always admired her voice,” he said.
Michel began singing at church in the ninth grade. His early musical influences include R & B groups, such as Boyz II Men.
In high school, Michel was part of a Christian band. “Through that, I really felt like God was revealing to me how powerful music was,” he said.
“I was communicating with Him and He was communicating with me,” he said.
At Ouachita Baptist University, Michel began taking his music seriously. He started another band and began writing his own music. (continued)
He returned to Bryant in 2001 and started playing with his current band, SeanMichel.
Michel explains that the name was chosen because he had played in the area already and people were familiar with him.
“All the good band names were taken,” he joked.
The decision to try out for “American Idol” was done at the last minute, he said. While watching a football game the night before, another friend recommended that he audition.
“I started laughing,” he said. “I don't watch the show.”
“It was about 3 a.m..,” he said. “I had my boxers on and I had to teach Sunday school the next morning.”
After some encouragement, he threw on some jeans, woke up Baggett and left for Memphis around 5 a.m.
They arrived in Memphis about 8 a.m., joining approximately 16,000 other “Idol” contestants waiting to audition.
“They looked like cattle,” Michel said.
The two auditioned after waiting for about 12 hours. The tryout period lasted more than a month, when Michel finally auditioned in front of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell in Memphis.
“It's pretty tedious,” he said, “and really draining emotionally and mentally.”
He calls his “American Idol” experience a “pretty crazy ride.”
Even if Michel wins the competition, he does not want to be a pop star. The mellow crooner feels that he was “made” to sing with his band.
“That's really my heart right now,” he said.
He and his band members stay busy playing local bars, churches and other venues, such as Vino's and Whitewater Tavern in Little Rock, and Jupiter Java in Bryant.
SeanMichel will be appearing at Juanita's in Little Rock in the next few weeks.
Band members include Sean Michel, Nicholas Taylor, Michael Harville, Justin Sanders and Eric Carden. The band has a Myspace Web site at http://www.my-space.com/seanmichel.
The Hollywood round of “American Idol” will be broadcast on the Fox Network Feb. 13 and 14.
Click here for Sean Michel online article and video from Fox 16.
Watch for more video, and don't forget the video, photos, and radio interview from the past few posts. Scroll down to find them!