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February 22, 2013

Celeste native makes mark on American Idol

CELESTE — A boy from a small town in a rural Texas county leaving for Nashville and advancing to the Top 20 in American Idol may seem like the stuff of dreams. But that’s exactly what Celeste-native Josh Holiday, formerly known as Josh Wright, has done.

“He’s always wanted to perform music,” he mother, Christy Perry said. “His passion is to be a gospel music artist, with a mix of pop and soul.”

But while Josh has proved through the last few weeks that he deserves to be in the Top 20, he auditioned for the reality television show by chance.

“He ran into some of his friends in Nashville who was going to audition at Bowling Green University, and decided on the spur of the moment to hop in the car with them,” Christy said.

Holiday made it through rounds in Chicago and Hollywood, although not without bumps along the way. While performing in a solo round in Los Angeles, he split his pants, but calmly finished his song.

“I’m happy with the way he acted when his pants split, because he handled it with composure and class,” Christy said. “My first thought as his mom was ‘Oh my gosh, I need to go buy him a new pair of pants right now.’”

Josh was raised in Celeste with his two younger brothers, Justin and Jordan. He graduated in 2006 as the valedictorian of Celeste High School and attended Belmont University in Tennessee, where he graduated in 2010 with a degree in music. He was working as a vocal coach and a caregiver when he was selected for American Idol.

Josh’s life has had its dark moments, however. When he was 17 his father, Richard, passed away. Josh recorded a song that Christy played for Richard over and over while he was in the hospital battling cancer, a song he later played at Richard’s funeral. Father and son shared a similar passion for music.

“His dad was a big influence in his life,” Christy said. “Richard was a self-taught musician, and they would play guitar and sing southern gospel music together.”

There are still challenges that Josh will need to overcome if he hopes to be the next American Idol, but his journey so far has been well-timed, according to Christy.

“He just seems so calm about wanting God’s will in his life,” she said. “I think he’s ready if it happens to him- he’s on the right page. He told me ‘Mama, if I succeed, I want to give back.’ I really think that this is a blessing in his life.”

A win for Josh would put Celeste on the map, according to Christy, a town that is a “great community to raise your children in.” Watching Josh on television has been a lot of fun for Christy and his grandmother, Jane Baldwin, and they’ve been able to support him in Chicago, L.A. and will be leaving soon for Las Vegas.

“I’m very excited for my son,” Christy said. “His brothers are so happy. I’m blessed to have him as my son.”

For American Idol news, videos of Josh performing and a television schedule, visit www.americanidol.com.

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