Baltimore has had an incredible showing in TV reality show singing competitions — particularly “The Voice,” which boasted both Reisterstown’s Joe Maye, who earned a duet with Christina Aguilera, and Baltimore’s Davon Fleming, who delivered a performance so good that it made Jennifer Hudson sing with him and throw her shoe.
This Sunday, we’ll brace ourselves for a local on another show, “American Idol,” with hopes of earning some more bragging rights for Baltimore.
Baltimore native Les Greene will audition in Sunday’s episode of the ABC reboot of the singing competition, and he’s made a bold choice for his first song — Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”
“That’s just a really important song to me,” he said of the soulful classic. “For every part of my life, I feel like it’s important. ... It’s for everyone. It’s timeless. I use that song for everything I have to sing for.”
The 27-year-old, who grew up in East Baltimore and Towson, but now resides in Key West, Fla., auditioned in New York in October in front of the show’s new judges, which include pop star Katy Perry, country singer Luke Bryan, and R&B legend Lionel Richie.
“It was awesome, especially from following them on social media and then seeing them in real life. Especially Lionel Richie, just growing up knowing what he’s done for music,” said Greene, who has been singing as a part of the energetic band Patrick and the Swayzees for the past three years, performing ’50s and ’60s music.
And though most people might assume that performing in front of established singers would make him nervous, Greene said it was actually the size of the audition room that was intimidating.
“The room was huge. I was more scared of them not being able to hear me, because I was so far away from them,” he said. But he brought everything he had — his emotions and feelings.
“That’s what I use every time I sing Sam Cooke’s song but I just make it my own. [I use] soul and conviction and my life. … Anyone doing a song by anyone else has to be themselves with it,” said Greene, who hopes to bring older music and sounds, R&B and du-wop to the show should he make it past Idol’s audition round.
“I do everything across the board. … I don't really like labels,” said Greene.
He said he turned to music at a young age as a source of refuge.
“I would always sing whenever something was going on. … I pretty much sang to myself to get through what was going on in life. Music helped me,” he said.
Though Greene could not divulge whether he made it to the next round, he sounded hopeful and noted that should he make it through, he’s excited at the possibility of meeting and working with some of his fellow contestants.
Tune in, he said, and expect him to be “a ball of awkward,” but “100 percent Les.”
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The episode airs 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC.