My wife had gone to sleep early the other day and her cell phone was in the living room when her sister called me up, breathless and giddy and flustered. When she calmed down, she directed me to YouTube to see Norman Gentle, none other than Brookfield, Connecticut’s Nick Mitchell. My wife’s family still lives in Brookfield, and while it had been more than 10 years since I’d last seen Nick Mitchell, with YouTube and my flood of memories, it was like it was only yesterday. Tonight Nick Mitchell made it to the coveted “Final 36” on TV’s American Idol and tonight, I, who can barely sit through an American Idol commerical, let alone knows what this show is all about, is handicapping the whole season, before it’s even really begun.
My personal knowledge of Nick Mitchell goes back to another time in my life; still, in my memory, he has always been the same, gregarious, fun-loving guy that sent a shout out to Ryan Seacrest and threw some love to Simon Cowell in the form of a hug after being told that he’s made it to the finals tonight.
Nick said something revealing in his pre-judging on this evenings episode; “I will do whatever it takes to make it through;” he also said as much to the judges while he was in with them. While this isn’t anything original, this fact is the secret to the success of Nick Mitchell. This is why he was made for a show like American Idol, and this is why, after seeing all his “competitors” in this evenings episode, all Nick Mitchell needs to do is SHOW UP and be the same guy I knew and he will win Season 8 of American Idol.
Nick Mitchell has always been a big, open-hearted, loud, opinionated, accepting individual. While his manner this evening on the show was subdued, he was probably just nervous. My wife and he went to Brookfield High School and together they sang in the school’s Small Group Special Chorus. My wife’s a year younger than I and I was lucky enough to see a bunch of the small groups performances her senior year of high school. But I was this sort of adopted kid, from another town, who’d graduated high school, went away to college, come back, and was hanging around this girl from another high school. Where Nick Mitchell came into things was where other kids who didn’t know me, or who did know me and didn’t like me, stayed away; Nick was always accepting and never made me feel uncomfortable. He was inclusive of me, he made me feel at ease, and this will be a real strength as America gets to know him. It was everyone under one big tent then; it appears no different today.
It’s funny, on the YouTube audition, he sang “Amazing Grace,” but I heard Nick Mitchell sing “Amazing Grace” eleven years ago when he did it at Brookfield High School’s Holiday Concert… in 1997-98! Nick Mitchell had soul and something special then; he’s only honed his instrument, he’s smart, and he’s fun! I can only hope that America gets to know the same Nick Mitchell that I got to know.
No one can say for sure what will go down these next weeks on America’s show of record. However Nick Mitchell is sure to shine so long as he remains true to himself and keeps his wits about him. Give the people what they want, Nick! Win American Idol!