Paul Mcdonald: Paul Mcdonald The Grand Magnolias
January 16, 2012 by staff
Paul Mcdonald: Paul Mcdonald The Grand Magnolias, Paul McDonald (born William Paul McDonald; August 29, 1984) is an American singer-songwriter from Huntsville, Alabama, who as of 2011 resides in Nashville, Tennessee. McDonald placed 8th on the tenth season of American Idol and since 2005, he has been the lead singer of the band Hightide Blues, renamed The Grand Magnolias in 2010.
McDonald was born to Susan and David McDonald was born in Auburn/Opelika. His father is a clinical psychologist and his mother teaches occupational therapy at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. McDonald was raised in Huntsville, Alabama. He is a graduate of Huntsville High School, where he also played wide receiver on the varsity football team, and he was in the school’s play, “The Wizard of Oz”, directed by Mike Chappell.
McDonald attended Auburn University and joined The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. McDonald left Auburn University with 6 hours short of graduation to focus on his growing music career in Nashville, Tennessee.
In the spring of 2005, he and fellow Auburn student Jonathan Pears began writing songs together, forming the band Hightide Blues. Adding two other members, Cragon Sims and Scott Rollins, they began touring small clubs around the state of Alabama. In 2006, McDonald put his education on hold to pursue a full-time career in music. After a limited edition self-titled EP Hightide Blues in 2007, the band released in 2008 a self-produced album, Love Come Easy, which was recorded in an old boarding school turned recording studio, operated by David Briggs, called the House of David in Nashville, Tennessee. The album garnered radio play from the songs “Dreamin’ Alone” and “Let It Roll”. Also included was a song called “Dancing with the Angels (Meg’s Song)”. McDonald wrote this song the night before the funeral of a very close friend to the band, Meg Ingram, who passed away from cancer at the age of 21. The band performs annually at the Meg Ingram Memorial Scholarship benefit concert in Huntsville.
Hightide Blues has also had success on the Internet, winning multiple awards on OurStage.com including over 15 Top 10 placements, as well as reaching number 2 on Best of Pop for 2011. From 2007 to 2010, the band continued touring around the country, performing with musicians such as the Zac Brown Band, Sarah Bareilles, and JJ Grey and Mofro. Hightide Blues also played festivals such as the Bonnaroo Music Festival, the Florida Music Festival, the Hangout Festival, and the Lynyrd Skynrd Simple Man Cruise. Between 2007 and 2010, Hightide Blues averaged around 150-200 shows per year.
In August 2010, McDonald and his band members moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and launched a campaign to let their fans choose a new name for the band. The group’s first album under its new name, entitled The Grand Magnolias, was released in 2011. The songs were written by McDonald and band member Jonathan Pears and produced by Dan Hannon and Ken Coomer. The album has seen a boost in sales since Paul McDonald’s appearance on American Idol, and it reached number twelve on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and had sold 9,000 copies by April 27, 2011. iTunes pulled the album from its store, without explanation, and the sales dropped off 60% from the previous week. A week later the album returned, again without explanation.
When the band learned that McDonald had made it through to the Hollywood round they put together a content release campaign to maximize the exposure from the show.
On January 27, 2011, McDonald received a golden ticket to compete in Hollywood from judges Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, and made it into the Top 24 by singing an original song, “American Dreams.” He was one of ten candidates chosen as a finalist based on public voting. Thirteen competed in the finals.
Since entering the competition, McDonald has made use of the social networking site Twitter to communicate with his fans and promote his band, The Grand Magnolias. The album also debuted on the Billboard Heatseekers chart before McDonald even sang in the show’s semi-final round. He was also the first 2011 Idol hopeful to reach 50,000 followers on his newly created official American Idol Twitter account. McDonald continues to be one of the most popular American Idol Season 10 competitors on the social networking site. After meeting her at the premier of Red Riding Hood, it was revealed that McDonald was dating actress Nikki Reed. On June 5, 2011, the couple announced their engagement. They were married on October 16, 2011.
McDonald was eliminated from the show on April 14, 2011, with a finish of 8th place.
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