Singer/songwriter Scott MacIntyre wowed American Idol judges and audiences alike with his quiet confidence and fierce determination. As the competition's first visually impaired competitor, Scott reinforced his position in the music world by never letting his disability get in the way. Instead, he's using his positive attitude to inspire fans around the globe.
Screening Room: Why did you audition for American Idol?
Scott MacIntyre: I had two goals, and one was to obviously play grand piano on the stage of American Idol, and that's really when I decided to audition last year, when they rolled the grand piano out. I think it was for [David] Archuleta or for Brooke White that used it first, and I had no idea they were going to do that. And that's who I am; that's what I've been for a number of years now, and that immediately became a dream of mine.
And the other part of the whole process for me was I just feel like with all the adventure in my life I have something to offer people and a story to share with people. I think it would be a shame if I kept that to myself and didn't let it out. There were some things I didn't talk about until I left the show, other than my visual impairment challenges, I really feel like I've been able to bring a lot of hope to a lot of people.
SR: You have been very open about discussing your impairment.
SM: I think it would be a horrible waste if I didn't let people in and didn't offer what I have to offer. ... People ask me all the time what I would say to people who are struggling or giving up, and it doesn't matter if you have a visual impairment or you've gone through kidney failure or it's a totally nonphysical challenge whatsoever, because there are all types of challenges that take many shapes and forms in life. And I just think, from the stories I've heard, I'm so glad I've been able to share what I have and hopefully uplift people and just be an inspiration to them.
SR: Are you looking forward to the tour?
SM: It's a huge deal. I have been dreaming about going on tour and playing night after night and playing show after show since I was a little kid, and I'm totally serious. I used to imagine that I was playing in front of these huge crowds and just try to imagine what it would be like to be in a new city each night and dealing with the press and seeing the fans everywhere you go. And being onstage, for me, is just such an amazing experience. It's not that all the attention is focused on me—it's just that I love making music, and I love to hear the reaction from the audience.
Music is just an amazing thing. It's a universal language. It transcends anywhere you can think of, and so to be doing it, to be sharing my music on this magnitude, is amazing to me.
SR: You seem very comfortable in the role of performer.
SM: Whether it's my musical genre or just my comfort or my confidence as you said, I've felt like this is what I've been meant to do for a while now. And I remember thinking exactly that in Hollywood week, because that was the first time where we had cameras literally—I couldn't usually see where they were—but they were everywhere. They were watching us eat. They're like, "We're going to be in your rooms, at night, in the morning," and it just felt, I was kind of sorry to see them go.
SR: Let's talk about the writing. What's that process like for you?
SM: It's a very interesting process, and I take it very seriously. The first thing I tell people is, a lot of people talk about how easy it is to write music and write a song when you're emotionally inspired, but when you can write the same quality of song when you're not emotionally inspired, that's when you know you're making some headway into the world of songwriting.
The music I write for myself obviously is of that pop-rock singer/songwriter genre, but I also have written in many different genres. I've had to become very good at keeping them separate so you wouldn't know the same Scott wrote this punk song that wrote, that's the same Scott as wrote this pop song, because it's very easy for those boundaries to blur, but I've been able to maintain the differences and to really get a point where I can write not only for myself but for other people as well.
SR: What do we have to look forward to in your career?
SM: You're definitely going to see me as the performer. Once you're on American Idol, you really can't escape the performance aspect of the industry, so I'm excited about that. Secondly, I'll definitely be writing for myself, and down the line, I'll be writing for other people. ... I feel like whether I'm writing about relationships, or about life, or about trials, or about my faith or whatever it is, I have a certain depth that I can bring to my lyrics and a certain honesty I bring to my lyrics that not a lot of people can.
SR: If you had the opportunity to perform with anyone, who would you choose?
SM: The first one that you might not expect would be Tim McGraw. ... I think that would be a really interesting duet. And something people would definitely not expect: the pop American Idol guy and the country star. But obviously, people like Jason Mraz and John Mayer I think would be two people I would love to share the stage with at some point. And I have to throw Billy Joel in there, last, because that would just be amazing!
SR: What is the best piece of advice you've been given?
SM: You may not be expecting this either, but the best piece of advice I've been given came from Kara DioGuardi, and I have to tell you the story of this. After I left the show, she actually grabbed me that night as I was walking off the stage and again backstage and she told me, "Hey, I want to get together, and I want to hear your original music." ... I actually got to spend some time with Kara a couple days after getting voted off and played a lot of my original music for her, and I'll never forget what she said, she goes: "This is what you need to be doing. When you're singing your own music, you have no issues with the vocals. It's like a different Scott, because the passion is what is driving the music."
She really saw that passion in my own music and in things that I have been living with for a while, and that actually were born and bred out of my own heart, so that really meant a lot to me that she recognized that that is what I need to be doing. I need to be writing and performing my own music, and especially coming from her, that meant the world to me.
SR: Okay, now for some more light-hearted stuff. What's playing on your iPod?
SM: Let's see. Jimmy Eat World. You wouldn't expect to see that.
SR: You are full of surprises today!
SM: I know! Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory, John Mayer, One Republic, James Blunt, Butch Walker—I don't know if you know who he is. Tim McGraw, I would throw that in there, and Jason Mraz.
SR: One last, and very important, question. You body drum?
SM: I do.
SR: I've seen a little body drumming...
SM: You haven't seen body drumming like this!
SR: I bet!
SM: The top 36 video, with me and Megan actually, if you watch the very end, there is body drumming. And they did a good job at mic-ing it, and it sounds like a drum set with the base drum, and the snare drum, and the toms, and the high hat, and the symbols. The crash symbols sometimes I do with my voice, but everything else, the high hat, symbol, toms, snare, base and everything is done on my chest and stomach, and it actually is different than some body drumming you maybe have heard.
SR: How does one get into body drumming?
SM: I've always been a very rhythmic person; I've played drums since I was about 7 years old. Obviously, I wasn't able to be around the drums a lot and being a rhythmic person and loving music as I do, I had to find something else to drum on.
SR: Plus, you know, it's portable.
SM: Body drumming is way more portable. And as the years went on, I got into it just because you can do it when you're standing there. It provides a great beat to write by, and as the years went on, my body drumming got a lot more complicated to where it actually sounds like a pretty crazy drummer.
Meet more of the American Idols!
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, March 10, 2014
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