Texoma’s “American Idol” participant said the entire experience was well worth it.
Sixteen-year-old Austin Michael Robinson, from Van Alstyne, won’t be moving on in this season’s contest, but said he felt he gave judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie a solid performance and showed them how Texans are made.
“I learned quite a bit and I have grown a lot since then,” Robinson said of his experience. “I learned I have to push myself to work harder at it and not give up. The worst part is I feel like I let my fans (and) my friends down, but other than that, I’m all right. I just want to do better next time.”
Robinson won his trip to Hollywood with a strong try-out that saw Richie and Bryan vote for him to move on. He also made an impression on the judges by coming back out to show off his roping talents. He roped Perry, while on Bryan’s shoulders, with Richie singing and clapping them on.
Monday night’s “American Idol” episode featured numerous contestants working on either an assigned song or one that they chose to perform. Robinson was assigned “Speechless” by country group Dan + Shay. He said he practiced and worked on it relentlessly. Shortly before he was to hit the stage, Robinson was shown talking with one of the show’s crew members saying that he wanted to change his song.
On Tuesday morning, Robinson said he was informing the show’s producers he was changing his song.
“The rehearsals went terrible, I wasn’t comfortable with it, it’s not my style,” Robinson said.
Instead he performed “Parachute,” a song by a more traditional country artist, Chris Stapleton. It is a song he’s played numerous times and knows well, he said he told producers. His mother, Summer Robinson, said the show took out the word “whiskey” in the line “You only need a drink when the whiskey is the only thing that you have left to hold.”
“ABC said they didn’t want to hear any songs with references to alcohol from a minor,” Summer Robinson said.
Austin Michael Robinson won his guitar in a raffle several years ago, he said, and is basically self-taught. He regularly covers artists such as Stapleton, George Strait, Cody Johnson and others of that ilk.
“Before this, I never sang in front of anybody,” Austin Michael Robinson said. “Well, at a coffee shop and a church, and I was with a group and practically lip-syncing.”
And being his own critic, he said he played at the House of Blues once, but “that was a terrible performance.” Playing in the auditions and this solo segment was, he said, “the first time I’ve been comfortable performing before people.” So, in effect, his mother said, Austin Michael Robinson got his start on “American Idol.”
And that’s an advantage.
“He knows the ‘American Idol’ ropes now, and can prepare himself for that,” Summer Robinson said.
He can try again, and might just do that, he added.
“There was one person I met who had tried out a year before and returned this year,” Austin Michael Robinson said. “I wasn’t serious enough, the song was just me, unpolished. I wasn’t ready. Now, I think I got a little better and I am going to be working to get even better.”
Austin Michael Robinson will be playing at El Patio Escondido in Van Alstyne on April 8.