With only five contestants left, R&B singer Jacob Lusk is in a close battle to take home the coveted American Idol win. The 23-year-old spa concierge from Compton, California gained praise from judges early in the audition process when he performed his first solo song, Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child.”
Towards the end of Lusk’s performance Idol judge Steven Tyler turned around to the contestant’s family members and yelled, “Be proud.” That was just the beginning.
With his ability to sing in a clear baritone voice and quickly swap to singing several octaves high within a soprano range, the R&B crooner created a trademark sound during the beginning of American Idol’s 10th season. On his first night of performing with the top 12 male contestants Lusk delivered a moving interpretation of Luther Vandross’s song “A House is Not a Home.” In an attempt to critique his performance a teary eyed Jennifer Lopez said; “Luther Vandross was my favorite singer of all time, and when I heard you do that just now I was like ‘wow this is what’s so exciting about this show, because he’s gone but now we have you.’”
American Idol third season contestant George Huff not only shares in Lusk’s gospel R&B vocal singing style, but also made it through the show’s competition to the be among the top five contestants. After his time on Idol Huff released two albums and is currently touring as a background vocalist for Jennifer Hudson.
In an interview with theGrio, Huff shared some advice for Lusk.
“Now is the time to really let it out, don’t hold back or anything just give it one hundred percent. When I was approaching week five of competition, Paula Abdul told me that when I went on stage I needed to give my all, if I am the one chosen to go home I should do so knowing I did my best as a vocalist,” said Huff.
Idol judges have been vocal this season in telling contestants to be certain that they choose songs that will showcase their vocal abilities.
In Lusk’s case, tonight and moving forward, Huff agrees. “Some of his best qualities are his bubbly personality, but also he has a real voice, if he sings the right songs it can put him over the top, make him win this competition, for real. Jacob has to choose a song that will allow him to pierce the hearts of everyone that is watching.”
Over the past eight weeks of the competition, Lusk has had his fare share of highs and lows. Recently TMZ acquired a mugshot of the contestant from November 2010, when he was arrested the day after auditioning for American Idol. Lusk’s arrest was the result of charges from 2009, when he blew off a court date stemming from a citation for riding the L.A. metro train without purchasing a ticket.
According to TMZ the singer spent three days locked up, all the while singing to inmates and prison staff. At his court appearance Lusk pleaded with the judge not place him on probation because Idol would not let him on the show if he were on probation. The probation was subsequently terminated.
The release of criminal information from Lusk’s past prompted the contestant to take to social media in an attempt show his fans he was un-phased by the unflattering glimpse into his past, tweeting, “I’ve been through a whole lot more than folks would know in this lifetime…BUT GOD has KEPT ME…and I am so thankful! Be blessed!”
Voice teacher and creator of Voice Lessons To Go, Ariella Voccarino describes Lusk’s vocal technique as singing in the “pocket.” Voccarino says “when Jacob Lusk is in his pocket, he anchors his voice down, locks down his larynx and has space from the bottom of his voice all the way to the top of his voice. most people can’t do that and have a much smaller range. He can go two ranges. Sometime He sings at the top of his range and you think he can’t add on a higher note, but he does and the note is still warm and has a low resonance quality about it.”
Thus far Lusk has treated viewers to stirring renditions of R.Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Trouble Water,” and Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” With weeks of competition remaining fans will be waiting in anticipation to see what song the singer chooses to perform next.
According to Huff, “Jacob Lusk can definitely have a career as a recording artist. He could do gospel or he could do mainstream music. There is room out there in the music industry for a singer like Jacob Lusk. American Idol is a grand opportunity, and I believe Jacob will have plenty of opportunities after American Idol.”