It was difficult to tell if the band students at Bronzeville Institute Scholastic were familiar with Daughtry’s music when the multi-platinum-selling rock band performed Friday at the Bronzeville neighborhood high school, not far from the old Robert Taylor Homes. Besides a few students tapping their feet during the two-song acoustic performance in the school’s band room, the well-behaved class was mostly silent and motionless.
Chris Daughtry himself wasn’t sure if they’d heard his band’s music before. The “American Idol” alum and lead singer said he looked down while singing — a hand-written “The BSI Panther Band Welcomes Daughtry” sign behind him — because he feels vulnerable performing in small environments sans microphone.
Still, he believes his band was able to connect with the students during a Q&A.
“I hope it’s inspiring,” Daughtry said in an adjacent room after the appearance, part of the Starburst Music with the Masters series, which benefits the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. “That’s the reason we do it. We want to inspire kids to do something with their music. Whatever they have a passion for, go for it. You can see it on some of their faces — the ones really taking it in.
“They see we’re real people who love what we do and not holier-than-thou rock stars with sunglasses on. They think, ‘Wow. OK, maybe it’s possible for someone like myself to make it and do big things.’”
The students asked Daughtry and bandmates Josh Paul and Brian Craddock what they would be doing if they weren’t musicians, what the best part of being a musician is, why they wanted to become musicians and how Daughtry felt when he won “American Idol.”
(Many people assume Daughtry won because his band has sold more records than any “Idol” alum other than Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, but, as he pointed out to the student, he actually came in fourth during the 2006 season.)
The Grammy-nominated band later joined the high school band as they played composer James Swearingen’s “To a New Beginning.” Because there was no need for a rock star with a booming voice in the song, Daughtry played what appeared to be a kettledrum in the back of the room. The 32-year-old North Carolina native embraced his minor role and struck the drum with dramatic flare.
“I hope I didn’t ruin your song,” he announced to the class afterward.
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