Westlake’s Ledet makes singing show’s final five
The excitement is growing for “Team Josh” in the small Louisiana town of Westlake, near Lake Charles, as hometown singer Joshua Ledet has made it into the top five on this season’s “American Idol.”
Ledet’s family and friends organize a viewing party for the Fox reality singing competition show each week, with last week’s event at the Westlake Multi-Purpose Complex featuring a big-screen TV, surround-sound system, food and door prizes. Past events have drawn a crowd of about 300.
“At times it’s scary getting all this attention because you’re not in a shadow anymore, you’re out in the open,” Ledet said April 24 from Los Angeles during a break in rehearsals. “And everyone is watching what you’re doing so you have to be a role model to other people, so you can never get out of line, you have to be more cautious.
“It’s fun and exciting in a way to know that all these people are behind you supporting you, how much they’ve come together to back you throughout this whole process, it’s definitely amazing.”
Likewise amazing is Ledet’s voice, according to “Idol” judges, who have repeatedly given his performances standing ovations and high praise. Last week, when he performed India.Arie’s “Ready for Love,” judge and fellow Louisiana native Randy Jackson said, “I don’t even know what to say anymore. Another unbelievable performance.” Steven Tyler commented, “I hope the label finds you a bunch of good songs.” And Jennifer Lopez said, “That was transcendent.”
On an earlier episode when Ledet had performed Louisianian Percy Sledge’s classic “When A Man Loves A Woman,” Lopez told Ledet, “The best thing I’ve ever seen on ‘American Idol!’”
“It’s definitely a privilege and an honor to hear those powerful words come from her,” Ledet said. “Those words went such a long way, and they just made me feel so good inside, knowing that all the hard work that I put in for this competition, it paid off. And it just makes me feel a whole lot better.”
Weeks like that one helped soften the blow a few weeks later when Ledet found himself in the bottom three after the nationwide voting by viewers via telephone calls, texting and online. This meant he or one of the other two at the bottom was in danger of leaving the show. In the end, the judges used their one “save” for the season to keep fellow contestant Jessica Sanchez on the show.
“I kind of don’t look at it in a bad way (being at the bottom). I just brush it off,” Ledet said. “I remember Haley (Reinhart) from last season, she was in the bottom three week after week, and she made it all the way to the top three, so I don’t let that bother me or affect me. I just keep my head up and just keep pushing harder and striving for that number one spot.”
But he said he doesn’t think about the actual finale much.
“I just focus one day at a time and the week I’m dealing with.”
Pressed further, he said that if he’s still in it on finale night, when contestants typically get to sing with some of music’s top stars, he’d like to perform alongside “Idol” season three winner Fantasia Barrino.
“Because she’s like my idol, my dream person to perform with. That would be the most amazing thing ever, to share a stage and a moment with her.”
Ledet turned 20 recently, and said he spent his birthday working, but did get a special video message from Barrino.
“Yeah, I sang one of her songs (‘I Believe’) and she sent a video to the show, saying that she was going to watch me and support me. She wished me a happy birthday.”
Other good wishes have come in the form of food from back home, thanks to the efforts of Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Ledet said. On one “Idol” episode, a tub of crawfish was wheeled onto the stage, and Ledet proceeded to give a lesson in peeling them to his fellow contestants.
“I hear he (Dardenne) goes to each parish, and lets each parish take a turn sending me different food, and I’m enjoying it a lot. Crawfish, banana bread, oysters, which I don’t eat, but I really appreciate because a lot of people at ‘Idol’ ate some of it.
“I’ve gotten strawberries, a lot of different Southern things I really love, some jambalaya and hot tamales. I really want some more crawfish.”
When told that the crawfish season in Louisiana was expected to peak that week, Ledet repeated his plea.
“If he (Dardenne) reads this, I’d really love some more crawfish.”
Ledet said that the entire “American Idol” experience hasn’t been what he’d expected.
“There’s a lot more to it than what I normally see on TV. It’s arranging the song performancewise and just so many other things going on, like photo shoots and different shoots, all kinds of other things that tie into it. It’s a lot.”
Mentoring the “Idol” contestants before each week’s show is music producer and record company chairman Jimmy Iovine, who brings in a guest mentor each week, among them Diddy, Gwen Stefani and Stevie Nicks.
“Working with the mentors every week really helps a lot. They’re people that have been doing this their whole lives. ‘American Idol’ allowing them to come in and mentor us to become better performers for that week, it really helps, and we take so much from them and take it to the stage, so it’s a privilege and an honor to work with these great people.”
Ledet describes his singing style as soulful pop, and in an online interview at http://www.americanidol.com, said he thinks through ‘Idol,’ he has found out who he is.
“Just someone who really loves music, a soul singer. ‘American Idol’ made me find out what I really love to do, and the true meaning behind music, and the true meaning behind performing, and being on stage in front of millions of people, and it’s just humbled me and put me in a place I never thought I’d be.”
And for his fans: “I love you guys and thank you all for all the love and support that you’ve been showing me. And I ask that you continue to pray for me and keep lifting me up because without you guys I wouldn’t be this far.”