January 16, 2012 by staff
Blake Lewis, Blake Colin Lewis (born July 21, 1981) is an American singer-songwriter and beatboxer who was the runner-up on the sixth season of American Idol. His major label debut album A.D.D. (Audio Day Dream) was released on December 4, 2007 through 19 Recordings/Arista Records. On October 30, 2007, his first single “Break Anotha” was released. The album landed on number ten on the U.S. Billboard Billboard 200 as its highest peak position with 97,500 copies sold in its debut, and over 350,000 copies so far. After the release of his second single “How Many Words”, which peaked at number eight on the U.S. Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs, Lewis was dropped by Arista Records. Lewis eventually signed with Tommy Boy Entertainment.
His second album, Heartbreak on Vinyl, was released on October 6, 2009. The first single “Sad Song” was released on July 21, 2009 and peaked at number ten on the U.S. Billboard Dance Radio Airplay. The album charted at number 135 on the U.S. Billboard Billboard 200, number twenty on the Billboard Independent Albums, and number seven on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Albums with over 4000 copies sold in the first week (1000 of those were digital downloads).
Lewis was born in Redmond, Washington to Dallas and Dinah Lewis. Dinah is a former rocker who still sings and plays guitar. He is an only child and is of Welsh, Swiss, German and Irish descent. He attended Kenmore Junior High and later Inglemoor High School in Kenmore, Washington. In high school, Lewis participated in many high school state competitions . He also took part in numerous musicals, as well as comedy and rap videos with his friends. In many of these videos, he portrayed his alter ego, Jimmie Walker Blue, the character he introduced during the semi-final round of American Idol.
Lewis started beatboxing at seventeen. He picked up this talent purely by ear, listening to CDs of beatboxing, after he was inspired by Matthew Selby, a former member of the Los Angeles-based a cappella group M-Pact, of which fellow American Idol semi-finalist Rudy C?rdenas was a member. Aside from singing and beatboxing, Lewis plays the guitar, keyboard, drums and has written many songs such as “She Loves the Way”, “Emotional Waterfalls”, “Dumpty Humpty” and “Jealousy”. He describes himself as an improv musician and often uses devices such as loop pedals and the Kaoss Pad to layer beatboxing, instruments, vocals and effects to create a song live on stage.
Being a member of the a cappella group Kickshaw for four years after graduating from high school in 1999, Lewis worked with the group on a 10-track album titled Put It In the Microphone but he quit the group in 2002 to become a solo musician going by the stage name Bshorty, which was basically inspired by the nicknames of the members of 311 and “aggressive inline-skate videos during the 1990s”, “doing drum and bass shows, and conscious hip hop shows, singer-songwriter stuff, and electronica and hip hop”. He made connections with various musicians by performing regularly in many venues in Seattle such as Nectar Lounge in Fremont, SeaMonster Lounge, Lo-Fi Performance Gallery, Jet Deck in Everett (now in Mill Creek) and hosted shows like The Digital Lounge shows at ToST. Before Idol, he was working on a solo album with a number of tracks finished.
Though he initially found American Idol unappealing, Lewis auditioned for it in Seattle with “Crazy” by Seal and an off-screen rendition of “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5. Introducing himself as the local beatboxing champion in the audition, Lewis beatboxed along with his teammates, including Chris Sligh, Rudy C?rdenas and Tom Lowe, to “How Deep Is Your Love” by Bee Gees in the Hollywood’s Week. The memorable performance received a standing ovation from the audience and Paula Abdul, who commented “that brought down the house”. In an early episode of the United Kingdom edition of American Idol, Lewis recalled his first solo performance in the Hollywood’s Week was “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” by The Temptations. When later he sang it in front of the other finalists, Phil Stacey felt that it was the best performance he has seen from Lewis.
Lewis ended up the last male contestant standing, despite Simon’s first impression that the singer was a bit “over the top” adding “I don’t know if you’re as good as you think you are”. But soon afterward, the judges began predicting Lewis’ “front runner” status. In an exclusive interview with X17Online on March 4, 2007, Simon Cowell foresaw Lewis’ chance to take the crown. After Lewis’ performance of “Lovesong” by The Cure/311 on March 27, Paula Abdul said that she would love to see him in the finale. Cowell further confirmed that Lewis was the front runner of male contestants on American Idol. Lewis, upon entering the top 2 on May 16, 2007, he thus became the first ever contestant from the Northwestern United States (specifically, Washington) to compete in the finale.
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