Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TOP STORY > >Jacksonville’s ‘Idol’ comes home

Story and photos by Christy Hendricks

The “American Idols Live 2009” tour was making a stop at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock on Saturday night.
Kris Allen, the newest American Idol, was headlining the tour. The former Jacksonville resident, who played Little League baseball there and was a substitute teacher in Cabot, would soon be getting ready for the show Saturday.

It was four hours before show time.

Stopping by a media room, Allen sat down with a Leader reporter to talk about the tour and his newfound celebrity.

“How does it feel to be back home?” he was asked.

“It’s good,” Allen told The Leader. “It’s so nice to be back in Arkansas. It’s good to be where family and friends are – for one day at least.”

The newest American Idol has lived in the Jacksonville and Cabot area for most of his life, although he now calls Conway home. He was born in Jacksonville and lived in the city until he was 17. He also lived in Cabot before his family moved to Maumelle.

The Idol winner says life is now “the complete opposite of what it was” a year ago.

“I wasn’t doing anything before,” Allen says. “I had just gotten married and was going to school.”

“I believe things happen for a reason,” he says. “I feel it was meant to be.”

The 52-stop tour has been exhausting for the idols. “I’m tired,” Allen says. “I’m not going to lie to you, but when you’re on stage, the adrenaline kicks in.”

Charlie Wood, Allen’s grandfather, was at a ceremony Friday morning to unveil the proposed “Welcome to Jacksonville” sign on Hwy. 67/167, which will proclaim “Boyhood Home of Kris Allen.”

Allen says he is honored by the sign. “I heard my grandpa was there,” he said.

“He’s pretty great,” Allen said of his grandfather. “He’s going to make it out tonight (to the show).”

Allen says of the sign, and of his home-state fans, that “the support that places like Jacksonville have given me … it’s reassuring.”

Allen says his wife, Katy, who has already attended a couple of the shows along the tour, can go to any show she wanted, but she “has been busy working.”