First Posted: 2/19/2014
Although he didn’t make the final cut on “American Idol,” Hazleton’s Keith London is looking to extend his 15 minutes of fame into more recognition and a music career.
And he’s coming home to the Wyoming Valley to do it.
London, 21, who auditioned for the 13th season of “American Idol” in Boston, was given a gold ticket to Hollywood. But he was eliminated after one song during Rush Week. And that was probably the song heard ‘round the world. London’s controversial rendition of Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy,” performed without changing the pronouns, created a buzz among the judges and viewers and heated up the Twitterverse.
March is shaping up as a big month for London when he arrives home. He may have the luck of the Irish with him as the headliner at an after-parade party from 6:30-8:30 p.m. March 15 at the Hilton Scranton, where he will share the bill with bands M80, Breaking Jimmy and Bad Hair Day. Parade day usually generates a few thousand visitors to downtown Scranton.
“My wife and I were watching ‘American Idol,’ and as soon as I saw Keith, I told her that we have to get him at the Hilton on parade day,” said Ryan Alpert, director of sales and marketing. “We thought having him here would bring in business for us and it would support someone local in their musical career.”
The next evening, he’ll perform a full concert, and participate in a post-show meet-and-greet at the Alice C. Wiltsie Center for the Performing Arts at the Historic Castle in Hazleton.
London also is busy for the first two weekends in March. He will perform at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Miss Greater Hazleton Scholarship Pageant at Hazleton Area High School, and his next stop will be at the Laurel Mall in Hazleton from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday, where he will perform, sign autographs and pose for photos. T-shirts and posters will be available for sale. Later that evening, he will be in Ashley at 7 p.m. at Charlie’s Cafe, 79 N. Main St.
London also will perform from 1 to 3 p.m. March 16 at the Freeland Marketplace, 166 Foster Ave., Freeland.
He said he was not aware of the comments from Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Lopez that he was “trying to be cute” until he watched his performance on TV with everyone else. “I think they judged me too fast,” he said. “I was just trying to send a message to anyone listening.”
The two judges talked throughout his singing, calling his song choice strange. They told him it threw them off. He was asked to sing another song, and he chose Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love.”
London told the judges it was a personal choice for him to sing the Beyonce tune. “I wanted to take a risk and sing a song that no other guy would sing,” he said. “In the song Beyonce thinks that she would know what it’s like to be a man when in reality she will never understand it because she is not and will never be a man. So my take on the song was that no one knows what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes and shouldn’t be judged.”
It is not unusual for him to sing tunes originally recorded by female artists. After all, he sang Katy Perry’s “Roar” for the judges in Boston. But in doing so, London made a conscious effort to bring attention to himself and to make a statement.
That he did.
After his performance aired on the East Coast, he tweeted, “Wait, did I just basically come out on National TV? Oh well (cat’s) out of the bag!”
His elimination was not shown on television but included in a clip that rounded out some of what happened that week and who was let go.
London created quite a stir and generated a lot of support from the gay community and from local residents. Although his family and friends have known for several years that he is gay, London explained that he tweeted the comment just to clarify it to his fans.
But London has no regrets about auditioning or his song choices on the show. He is happy to be getting back to writing music, and he’s thrilled about the response to his “Idol” audition.
In fact, if he does not get signed by a record label, London expects to audition for the reality TV show next year. He’s even saved the wristband from this “American Idol” performance.