Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Frederick “Freddie” Bourne is in the running to become New Jersey’s favorite singer.
“NJ Idol” is a vocal competition open to New Jersey residents ages 15 to 29 who sing all genres of music, including country, rock, pop, gospel, classical and folk. It is sponsored by the Watchung Arts Center in Watchung, N.J., about 20 minutes from campus.
According to watchungarts.org, “The mission of this event is to provide young local talents a venue to perform and an avenue in which to further their careers.”
Bourne is a second-semester sophomore at FDU’s College at Florham and is majoring in communication studies and double-minoring in journalism and theater arts.
Last semester he interned at NJ 101.5 and will continue to do so after he finishes filming the three movies he is involved with on campus. He also has a radio show on FDU Hell Radio.
His passion has always been performing.
He has performed many gigs and benefits with his band Sahara and former band Exit 22, most notably the Starland Ballroom in 2010 and The Stone Pony in 2010 and 2011. For both of these bands he was the lead vocalist and keyboardist.
Bourne has won other “Idol” titles in the past, placing third in “Freehold Idol” in 2008 and winning “Liberty Idol,” a competition within his high school, in 2010.
Although he had tried out for “American Idol” in 2010, he is somewhat bitter about the experience. It became apparent that, in that competition, they are looking for ratings more than talent.
In fact, one of the guys that Bourne met while auditioning for “American Idol” was also auditioning for “NJ Idol.”
Bourne had found out about the contest while listening to a radio advertisement. As soon as he got back to school, he sent his “stuff” in right away.
That “stuff” was an entry form, waiver/release form and, of course, a video, CD or YouTube link of himself performing.
On Feb. 18 at 1 p.m., 36 contestants were divided into seven groups of five for the initial audition. Each person was given 90 seconds to perform a cappella in front of a panel of judges.
These judges were Mark D. Conklin, songwriter, producer and manager; Lou Takacs, vice president and associate counsel of Warner Music; Lisa Drew, hit songwriter; and Lisa Coppola, recording artist.
The judges base their decision on voice quality, appearance and musicality.
After Bourne sang “You Are Not Alone,” by Michael Jackson, one of the judges – though Bourne cannot recall which one – told him that he has a “perfect recording voice, interesting funky look and great control.”
Needless to say, he made it to the semifinals.
Recently, Bourne was diagnosed with Laryngopharyngeal Reflux Disease (LPR), a condition that occurs when stomach acid travels up through the throat. It is an inflammation of the vocal chords that gives hoarseness in the throat, making it hard to speak, let alone sing.
Despite being on antacids and having to cut out his beloved Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (he used to drink two large iced coffees a day), he is looking on the bright side. “I save $3.09 [on one large iced coffee].”
On Feb. 24, at 8 p.m., the first round of semifinals took place. This time, each contestant was given three minutes to perform and could play an instrument as well. Yet Bourne chose to leave his keyboard at school and sing “Chasing Cars,” by Snow Patrol.
Later this week, Bourne will find out the results of the semifinal round, which will determine whether or not he will be a finalist. There are two semifinal rounds, one with 11 contestants, the other with 10. The top five from each round will be in the finals on March 3.
The first-place winner will get $500 in cash, while the two runners-up will receive “industry professional services prizes,” according to the Watchung Arts Center’s website.
Whether Bourne makes it into the finals or not, he knows he will never stop performing.
He has been collaborating with Mick Walsh from the British act, The Adventures of Stevie V, who had a number-one hit, “Dirty Cash, Money Talks.”
The two have been sending out music to various places with the hopes of one day having a successful career in the music industry.
For Bourne, winning this contest would mean more than just another “Idol” title.
“It means many things. It would help me get out there and showcase my talents, help me get my foot in the door with not only my voice but also my songwriting and it would be one step closer to being another artist that is trying to fight for real music in the industry today that has become overshadowed in the past few years.”