This Kalamazoo, Michigan, native is all about soulful singing and killer piano skills. Top five contestant Matt Giraud made history as the first contestant ever to be saved by the judges. We think they made the right call.
Matt sits down with Oprah.com's Screening Room to chat about his rise to fame.
Screening Room: What has the American Idol experience meant to you?
Matt Giraud: You know, this obviously meant a lot to me. It really sent me off on where I'm supposed to go, I think. I always wanted to be a singer, I always knew I wanted to be a performer on this type of scale—I just never really knew how I would get there. So, it was really cool that Idol could give me that chance to get up on the big stage and really show a lot of people what I can do.
SR: What are you most looking forward to about the Idol tour?
MG: Going back and playing those big arenas in Michigan. It's crazy...I used to be across the street at a little smaller clubs just playing music while people had food. I'd just be in the background, and this huge arena's out the window, and it was like, "Man, I wonder what it would be like to play there." ... To step on those huge stages and step out in front of thousands of people in your home state—I can't wait to do that.
SR: Have you heard from the folks in Kalamazoo?
MG: Yeah, I went home a few days ago, and they had a big homecoming celebration for me. I didn't really know how it was going to turn out, and there was over 6,000 people there. Unbelievable. I've never experienced anything like that, and it was really cool because they weren't there to be on TV and I couldn't sing or anything; they were just there to, you know, see me and show some love, and it was a really nice thing to do.
SR: If you could work with anyone in the business, who would it be?
MG: I think I'd love to work with some bands like The Fray or Gavin DeGraw. I'd love to work maybe even in the Christian music industry a little bit. I'd love to work with even guys like Michael W. Smith or Steven Curtis Chapman. That would be really cool for me.
SR: One of our favorite questions to ask is, "What inspires you?"
MG: I think definitely love inspires me, obviously. You know, music really inspires me, actually, to do things. Sometimes when I hear a certain type of song, it makes me want to be a better person or call someone I haven't talked to in a long time. Music really inspires me a lot, especially sitting down and playing the piano.
SR: It seems like the whole process of choosing a song and then figuring out the arrangement would be an extreme amount of pressure. Does it feel like pressure to you? Or is it a natural thing?
MG: It the beginning it really was, it was just what I loved to do, it was so exciting every week. But as you got down and down to the nitty-gritty toward end, it really became more pressure. The most nervous, intense days of my life were those Wednesdays. On performance days, I woke up with this feeling in my stomach, like "Ah!" It turned into something; it was a competition. It wasn't just us performing, you know; it was judges and people picking apart what you wear, what you say, what you do every day and as an artist. That gets kind of hard. I was pretty nervous on those days, but I've noticed after getting off the show, performing on some of the talk shows, I've been a lot more comfortable. People can really tell. They'll say, "I like him better now!" It's less pressure.
SR: I can't imagine what being picked apart like that would feel like.
MG: It actually gives me more hope that I can have a career after, you know? Idol's a huge thing. It's also what you do after, though.
SR: What would you say was your favorite performance of the season?
MG: I think my favorite performance would have to be...I think "So Small" was a really good one for me. I actually like "Stayin' Alive" too. For some reason, "Stayin' Alive" was just fun, like a cool "wink wink" humor because I had just gotten saved. ... I really like "Let's Get It On" too.
SR: You've obviously had a lot of access to some really creative and talented people. What is the best advice you've received?
MG: I got this pretty good advice from Kara [GioGuardi] to stick to what I'm best at. I talked to her backstage a couple of times, and she said, "You know, just because a song might necessarily move you, sometimes it's not the best for you to sing on the show," and I understand that. But that doesn't mean I can't sing the songs later. So maybe I'll be doing some songs on tour that I just love that I really couldn't pull off on the show.
SR: Okay, we're dying to know, what's playing on your iPod?
MG: The Cure, Music Soulchild, Paulo Nutini, and let's see, there's a band called Black Cats who I really like, and yeah, I got the new David Cook video, of course. And a little bit of Katy Perry action going on.
SR: We heard a rumor that you are a huge Disney fan. True?
MG: Yeah, I love it.
SR: I think that's awesome that a guy can man-up and be like, "I'm down with Disney."
MG: I think it came from my parents taking me on a lot of trips to the Disney park, so I'm a huge Disney fan. I'm kind of like a collector. It's a little embarrassing, but yeah, I like Disney.
SR: So, if you could spend a day off, what would you want to do?
MG: Well, I've been in L.A. for a while. I'd love to go to Disneyland out here, obviously, and I'd love to go to the beach. I'd definitely love to just drive out, maybe to the desert or something, like get away from everything.
Meet more of the American Idols!
Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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