A Wichita native and Maize High graduate will be among the singers featured when “American Idol” makes its 14th season premiere on Wednesday.
Cameron Bedell, a 2007 graduate of Maize High, auditioned for the show in Nashville last summer and advanced to the next round, known as the “Hollywood round.” Footage from the Nashville audition will air on Wednesday night, and the Hollywood rounds will air in a few weeks. The show is on Fox, Cable Channel 4 and 2004, and will start at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Bedell, now a 26-year-old professional songwriter and producer living in Nashville, isn’t permitted by the show’s producers to say how he fared in Hollywood. But he did say during a recent phone interview from Nashville that trying out for the singing competition was never on his list of goals.
His mother-in-law, however, has long thought he’d be a perfect “American Idol” contestant and has encouraged him for years to give it a try. When the auditions came to where he was living, he decided to go.
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“I watched the show when I was young, but it was never something I planned on doing,” Bedell said. “The older I got, the more into music I got, and I realized ‘American Idol’ wasn’t my cup of tea. I am an artist, but my passion and love come from music writing and producing rather than being at the forefront.”
Bedell was born in Springfield, Mo., in October 1988 to Gary and Linda Bedell. When he was 5 years old, the family, which also included siblings Ashlyn and Austin, moved to Wichita. Cameron attended Maize schools throughout his life, and when he was in high school, he played on the Maize High varsity basketball team.
Bedell thought he’d make a career in basketball. But when he got to Butler Community College, he began to develop another hobby: music. Bedell’s father, Gary, had been a bass player in several Wichita bands when Bedell was young, and there were always instruments around the house. When he was young, his mother remembers, Bedell got a drum set and drove his parents crazy. Not long after, he became interested in a computer program that allowed him to compose his own music.
At Butler, Bedell joined the show choir, the Headliners, directed by Butler’s lead music instructor, Valerie Mack. He was part of the choir from 2007 to 2009, and there, he met his future wife, Anna. (They married in 2012.) Bedell was a top-notch performer and also composed several songs while there, Mack remembers. One was an original composition for Mack’s daughter, who is a dancer, to perform to.
In 2010, Bedell composed a song that was the soundtrack for a Spangles’ commercial promoting the “wok and roll bowls.” In 2011, he won a car and the title of “Mel Hambleton Idle” as part of a singing competition put on by Wichita’s Mel Hambelton Ford.
Pushed by Mack, Bedell decided to attend Nashville’s Belmont University, where he studied songwriting and the music business. He graduated in 2012 and has lived in Nashville ever since.
Bedell was a standout student, Mack said.
“He’s a great performer,” she said. “He has the ‘it’ factor. He’s very charming.”
Bedell said that when he traveled to Hollywood, he was able to sing in front of “American Idol’s” celebrity judges.
“It was awesome,” Bedell said. “Jennifer Lopez is gorgeous, and Harry Connick Jr. is really nice. But Keith Urban actually was my favorite. He lives in Nashville as well, and he took to me more than the other judges. He said some great things.”
Bedell has a music studio in his Nashville home and is working with some celebrity clients, including 12-year-old “America’s Got Talent” finalist Quintavious Johnson. Bedell is helping to write some songs for his first album. Bedell writes all kinds of songs, from country to pop to R&B, he said.
His mother, Linda, who works in a dentist’s office in Wichita, said that the excitement is building among people who knew her son. He’s included in a commercial for the show that’s been airing, and people are recognizing him.
She can’t wait for Wednesday.
“People will tag me on Facebook when they see something about it,” she said. “The excitement here is growing more each day that the show gets closer.”
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday