Justin Guarini: Idol Wrap Co Host Justin Guarini
January 16, 2012 by staff
Justin Guarini: Idol Wrap Co Host Justin Guarini, Justin Guarini (born Justin Eldrin Bell; October 28, 1978) is an American singer/songwriter and actor who rose to fame in 2002 as the first runner-up on the debut season of the television show American Idol.
Guarini was born in Columbus, Georgia. His father, Eldrin Bell, is a former Atlanta, Georgia Chief of Police, and current Chairperson of Clayton County Commission (Georgia). His mother, Kathy Pepino Guarini, was a journalist for WTVM TV in Columbus, and later for CNN. Guarini was raised by his mother and stepfather, physicist Jerry Guarini, in Philadelphia’s suburb of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
Guarini’s musical experience started at the age of four when he was accepted by the Atlanta Boy Choir. After moving to Pennsylvania in 1985, he joined the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Boys Choir. Throughout his school years Guarini sang in school choirs, and from 1996-2000 was the lead soloist in an award winning a cappella group named The Midnight Voices. The group released an independent album in 1999 with proceeds benefiting a music scholarship fund at Guarini’s alma mater, Central Bucks High School East in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He was a director/performer at the Riverside Haunted Woods in Bridgeton, Pennsylvania in 2001.
His high school and college theater credits include the lead roles in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Little Prince, The Pirates of Penzance, The Taming of the Shrew, and Once on This Island. In addition to singing and stage performing, Guarini plays the piano and guitar.
After studying vocal performance and theater studies at the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) in Pennsylvania, Guarini later moved to New York City where he attended the School for Film and Television. He worked in the New York theater before successfully auditioning for American Idol in April 2002. Shortly after being chosen for American Idol, he was offered a role in the Broadway production of The Lion King. Guarini wrote about his decision between the two offers in his exclusive 2008 blog for the television site, Fancast, stating, “I had attended master classes I learned Zulu and Sutu phrases, as well as the music from the show. It was a dream almost come true at the time. But, now I knew I was onto something, and I wasn’t letting go. I politely declined the offer of a role…”. He was also considering a contract offer from an independent record label, but the show’s rules prohibited participants from having existing record contracts.
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