Monday, August 23, 2010

Casey James Back in Denver

Casey James waiting in Denver 6/09
Tonight's American Idol Live concert in Denver has brought Casey James back to where it all began for him -- a fact not lost on his many fans who have tweeted him about the significance of the circle closing.  While I may write about Casey, I do not assume to know what it feels like for him to return to the place where just nine months ago he came looking to find help in making his dreams come true.  Perhaps he'll do some press and share with us what it is like to remember that the last time he was in Denver he was a relatively unknown local musician long on talent, but short on the indicia of success.  This time, he comes into the city as someone known around the world, with legions of devoted fans and a contract with a major record company.

The Casey James story, however, did not begin in Denver.  It started more than a decade earlier when he developed a love of music, channeled it into a dedication to become the best guitarist he could be, and focused all his energy on becoming a multi-dimensional singer-songwriter-musician.  Denver was the magic key, the enchanted ring, the supernatural "something" that acted as the catalyst propelling him from working to make his dreams come true to actualizing his dreams.  Without Denver we might still not know who Casey James is, as there are hundreds of other talented musicians still toiling in obscurity as I type this.  He, like them, could still be getting up every day and making that decision -- do I keep trying or do I give up?  Do I continue to play in front of three drunk guys or do I prop my guitar up against the wall in my bedroom and go out and get a "real job?"

Casey has said at almost every stop along the tour, and in so many interviews along the way, that the fans who voted for him have made his dreams come true (as they did for the other Idols, he adds).  But he could go back and thank the judges who put him through, and the producers before them who sent him to the judges, and the other musicians who encouraged him in the local music scene, and the venue owners who booked him, and the occasional fans who actually listened and shared their appreciation, and his friends and family for supporting him in pursuing a career as a musician and himself for having the internal drive to keep going in the face of substantial evidence that his dreams may never be realized.

This caused me to think about those who chase their dreams like Casey did.  How long do you continue?  When do you give up?  I suppose it depends on how realistic the dream is and how much it really matters to you.  I wrote elsewhere about a man I had the pleasure of interviewing earlier this year, Donnie Vann, who wanted to be a baseball player when he was a kid but, after a diving accident left him a quadriplegic, he had to envision a new dream, one that he might attain and that had value to him.  Eventually, he found poker and realized his dream this year to play in the World Series of Poker.  He also added new dreams -- traveling cross-country with his entourage, visiting famous landmarks along the way, and blogging about it ( 

For a musician, there are some different practicalities to consider in deciding how long to hold on to your dream.  How old is too old?  How many years of trying is too many?  Casey was 27 when he auditioned in Denver -- young to me, but not young to still be trying to break into music.  Not just because of Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and the Jonas Brothers, but music is a young person's industry.  When, if ever, do you decide you're too old to pursue your musical dreams?  That's, I suppose, where the second part of the equation comes into play.  How much does it matter to you? 

There is no one who watches Casey James perform who does not recognize just how crucial music is to him -- how it is (as I've said too many times) as important as breathing air to the rest of us.  Again, I may be repeating myself, but it is almost voyeuristic watching him play the guitar, it is such a personal, emotionally-charged experience.  The fact that Casey was able to fight back after nearly losing the ability to play and the fact that he continued to pursue music as year after year went by without tangible, financial success shows how single-minded he was in not giving up on this dream.  Was he right to continue?  You can't look at the results, necessarily, to decide in retrospect if something was the right thing to do.

But you can look at what people do to try and realize their dreams.  And what stood out in the Denver auditions was Casey's comment "I'm willing to do whatever I have to do."  That showed me then that this meant everything to him.  That his priorities were aligned correctly.  Music was number one, everything else was not on the list.  If you are going to pursue your dream, you can't do it half-heartedly, you need to commit.  Casey missed the Dallas audition because he was doing that -- taking whatever gig he could get and playing whatever kind of music was required.  And his leap of faith in listening to his momma's persistent urging that he try out is more evidence of someone who was willing to go full out to make his dreams come true.

So Denver is significant as the place where Casey finally took a step that propelled him much farther than any step he'd taken before.  It is that crucial piece of the puzzle that put it all together for everyone to see.  But as we focus so much on Denver, let's not forget all the years before then that led up to Casey being able to try out in Denver.  He had a realistic dream that was nurtured enough and important enough not to give up on.   He had prepared for years for that one moment and made the most of it.  Denver was where the dream started to become a reality.

We all have dreams which, if they're not unattainable and if they're important enough to us, we might realize if we work hard enough.  Go find your Denver.

ED: After tonight's concert, Casey gave us a hint at what today was like for him, tweeting this:


  1. I get chills thinking of how far Casey has come since his Denver audition. What an exciting night for him to be back where his idol journey first began...You've come a long way, baby!!

  2. Thank you for this, Shari. I think through Casey's story you have inspired us to find our "Denver"! When I started making my gift of drawings for Casey, my love for painting and drawing was ignited again. Seeing the passion he has for his music & watching him follow his dreams has made me want to do my art even more! Being an art teacher, I have always continued to be involved with art but only have minimal time to do my own art. Thanks to Casey & now this wonderful article, I am more inspired than ever to make time for my first true love - ART!
    I can't imagine what it feels like for Casey to be back where this AI journey started - and now it is almost over! He will be moving on to the next phase of his career. We are all eagerly awating his CD & tour!

  3. Shari - Excellent article, as always.

    What I still don't understand is how Casey wasn't discovered sooner. How is it possible that he didn't attracted crowds of fans everywhere he went. I can't get over how amazing he was during the Keys Lounge performance. Seriously, when I hear he was playing his heart out in half-empty venues I could cry.

    In any event, we know him now - LOTS of people know him now. Wish him all the success in the world!

  4. After reading this article , I got to thinking. Just how many other awesome artist are out there and never found.Ive known some myself in my life time. If you have a talent like Casey, its not going anywhere if you dont do anything about it and with the help of his Mom, HE DID.I have read some of Jace Edwards info and he is big in Europe but I didnt know who he was until TRUE BLOOD. He has the title song. Since Casey James, which I just love Blues, country Jazz, well I love Clasical also. Pop.. I guess everything. I started looking at you tube and pulling up different songs.
    Casey is an origanial.. He will go far. Some of the other americal idol,s I wont say who, but they are close to whats out there and Casey is different. I spoted it the min. he stepped out at the auditions. and I was right.. Im not sure about the judges.. I dont know where they were or who they were looking at other than them selves.

  5. I am grateful for the people that put him
    through to the judges and for the judges
    that saw magic in Casey.

    At that point is when my respect for Simon
    disappeared. Could it be that he is resentful
    of tall handsome talented young men?

  6. It could be that Simon's jealous... just sayin!

    Great blog, Shari! Casey's amazing and it warms my heart to see the opportunities coming his way! He's so deserving! And thanks to Momma James for "encouraging" him to go to Denver in the first place! Momma knows best!

  7. Polina (Polina___)August 23, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    Thanks Shari, love reading your articles about Casey !!!
    Reading this I just realized again how happy I am that Casey was "discovered" and that he is able to share his gift with so many of us (not only with few locals in a pub).
    Now that we feel as if we knew him forever... how terrible is the thought of never getting the chance to be touched by his music !?

  8. I am so inspired by Casey! He is right where God wants him to be! Thank you Casey for everything! I love you!

  9. Rhonda rjnelson785August 23, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    Shari this is an amazing read-thanks so much for what you do!!
    Casey, I think all of your fans have had the "significance of Denver" in their heads today. We're so proud and grateful for the difference this year has made in your life. You are an inspiration to all of us to pursue our dreams and make as much out of the time we're given as we possible can. Thanks for all that you do!

  10. that was such an awsome article......i loved what you said go find your Denver.that says it all!!!!his story is such an inspiration.he's living proof dreams do come true.i can't imagine how hard that was for him to actually decide to be on that show.thank you again m.James for that extra little made all the difference in the world.

  11. Jennifer (@spinnyjb)August 23, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    My one overwhelming wish is for Casey to see his ripple effect... friendships made, dreams reignited, hope given. God bless you Casey James! You deserve every good thing that is happening to you :)

  12. "At 5 a.m. on July 14, an estimated 9,000 people had circled Invesco Field, all pre-registered contestants ready to show the world their talent on the Fox hit reality show, "American Idol." To register, contestants showed up during Sunday and Monday to sign up.

    After two days of anxious waiting, long lines and little sleep, they finally had their shot at earning one of the most sought after titles in the world—as the next "American Idol."

    With Idols who came in from all over the country, Fox producers used Denver not only as chance to find the next star, but as a commercial venture for mainstream advertising of the upcoming ninth season. They packed in thousands of fired up contestants into the area in front of Invesco Field for a filming of the massive crowd.

    The entrance was filled in no time with an excess line still snaking its way around the stadium. Everyone waited patiently, using the time to warm up their voices, have a snack or mingle with their competition.

    Metromix left the scene as satisfied producers opened the gates to the stadium, where only contestants and the American Idol crew were allowed in.

    It is estimated that between 100 and 1000 people will move on to the next round"

    I hope Casey got a moment to go back to Invesco Field to pray & reflect on his coming full circle.

    I think -- I finally have an answer to my long awaited question -- on what date (I am a bit of a geek for numbers & dates & how they figure into our lives) he got that golden ticket.

    His chance at changing his life as he once knew it. I'll have to do a little more research to see exactly how many people did get a golden ticket that day ;) It's been an amazing journey as a fan to see his talent be recognized but other casual fans of the show on tour. A talented, singer, songwriter, and musician who is a stand up guy and so deserving of this "full circle" moment in his life.

    "Fox producers used Denver as a chance to find the next star" Thank the lord! I sure found not only a real star, but a kind, considerate, talented, and spiritual musician. I'm forever blessed by this whole journey in many ways.

    Loving the number four, it makes me happy knowing his special day included my favorite number!! Casey James your one in 9000! God bless you. I look forward to your music and the messages you want to send out to your fans via the music for the rest of my life.

  13. Thanks for Casey for making it to Denver. He filled my emptiness, watching his videos, following him, searching for news and interviews bout him, seeing his face, ahh i love him. I`ve never been attracted to any performer this way, many catches my eyes but only casey e.james catches my heart. Casey, i hope i can meet you in your own tour here in Canada.

  14. @CJFan_audrey (Twitter)August 23, 2010 at 10:47 PM

    So many of us throw in the towel and give up our dreams of pursuing that one thing that we are passionate about. Sometimes we rationalize that it's not realistic. We figure we need a job that will pay the bills. We join the rat race - the more we make the more we spend, but in the end are unfulfilled and always searching.

    Isn't it great when you can actually make money and a career out of doing something you truly love? If done correctly, work shouldn't even feel like work. I admire Casey and people like him who remind us to follow our dreams. They remind us through their story that the pursuit of happiness is not a smooth one, but that bumps along the way are part of the journey to help us grow and learn. If we listen well and pay attention to all the signs as they arise and take help and opportunities, we will find our way. And maybe our dreams or hobbies may develop into dreams realized!

  15. Thanks so much Shari! One thing I do know, God loves a humble heart, and Casey has just that, and I pray that God continues to bless his life, he just makes me happy, being Casey James must be awesome, he is the RAINBOW CONNECTION!

  16. Sharron Grissett Mobile, AlabamaAugust 24, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    This is probably the most overwhelming blog I've read to date, Normally I would continue to start out my comments abt how handsome Casey is, but tonight, its about the God given talent, that the enemy (being raised in a religious environment as Casey and I were), tries to take from you what God has given you. This young man has fought death and hell to be where he is right now. His dream began the minute he was placed in his mothers womb. And I for one am so Thankful he took that leap of faith, he is a very fine young man, and I have the highest respect for him his mom and brother, I too have come to know them. In my opinion praying mothers and grandmothers are the source to success in some young people today. If God gives u a talent, as he has Casey, then I agree with you Shari it is never to late to find your Denver. @slaphappynbama via twitter.

  17. Marlene from Sweden (twitter: EmmaMarleneL)August 24, 2010 at 1:46 AM

    No words... Only LOVE!!!!! <3
    I'm sooo greatful for you Casey!
    And Shari... Awesome once again!

  18. I had been watching Idol from the begining when it aired and some contestants I adoredl and I wasn't going to watch season9. I gave in and watched. When Casey James walked in it just took my breath away. I was so inspired by his humble soul and that awesome voice. I'm so thankful that His Mom encouraged him to go to Denver to persue his Dream. I believe That God had a plan for him and it was through the heart of his Mom and she knew The future belongs to those who believe in their dreams and so his music would Inspire so many. Thank you God for the James Family.

  19. I love Casey's raw emotion in his retrospective letter. That make me keep going to be a Casey's fan. He is such an honest person! Didn't hide things behind him... Hope him the best of upcoming new music!
    Again, Thank you Shari. You are the champion of Casey!!!!

  20. I think this is what would be called a "Right of Passage." I am so happy Casey kept his dream alive. Here it is in all its glory to share with all of his fans, new, old, and many many more to come. Casey's story is inspiring beyond words. Faith, hope and love, these three. . . isn't it the truth.

  21. What an amazing journey it has been! I have "met" some amazing people because Casey brought us together for the love of music! I am so so so thankful that he listened to his momma and took the leap...

    Thank you so much Shari for this wonderful blog!

  22. I live in Denver and could not attend the concert last night. I am a huge fan an follower of Casey James. I also felt overwhelmed yesterday knowing he was here in Denver where it all started. I can only imagine what it was like for him to be here. It had to be surreal. Hopefully, it inspried him to write a new song for his upcoming album! I will be the first in line to buy it!

    Thanks a million to Shari! I read your blog daily!

  23. Paula (@PaulaMxx on Twitter)August 24, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    Loved this Shari! Up until this year of Caseyness I was the girl of "used to be" I used to be young, I used to be thin, I used to be adventurous (what happened to that girl who backpacked through Europe on her own?) I used to have a passion for music, I used to be me!
    Being a single mum takes all of your time, energy, money. Being a teacher means you help steer young people in the direction of their dreams. All of this took me away from me.
    This changed this year and I wholeheartedly blame/thank Casey James. I rediscovered how much music can affect me. I rediscovered that I am still brave enough to jump on a plane on my own. I rediscovered what it felt like to to be a fangirl (you've all seen my squeeee picture) and most of all I have rediscovered me and that folks is my Denver!

  24. Casey, something about you stunns me. i can feel your soul whenever you communicate and you don't even have to be singing, even though i love it when you do. You are such an inspiration. You are so deserving of everything that is happening to you. May God keep pilin' on the blessings. love ya.

  25. a word: FAWESOME!

    Girl4Reba: If your date is correct, Casey got his Golden Ticket on my birthday...what a gift THAT turned out to be, huh? :D

    We are in for one helluva ride, Casey James Fans, and it's just beginnin...Casey is gonna have a long, successful and ILLUSTRIOUS musical career!

    I am proud to be a CJFF:CaseyJamesFanForever!!!!

  26. One can only try to imagine the emotion Casey is feeling being back in Denver. I can honestly tell you that when he auditioned "and took his shirt off,which must have been very hard for someone so very humble" and simply stated i'll do whatever it takes" i knew right then and there how much his music meant to him and i new he would get my vote every week.So to Casey i say this, your dreams are all coming true and i will continue to support you and your career as long as you continue being the superstar you are destined to be!!!!! god bless you Casey James!!!!
    Janice twitter me @CaseysCrew488

  27. Thank you Bybee for encouraging Casey to take that trip to Denver. His love for his music, his career, his destiny is contagious. He is a reminder that if you put your heart and soul (and occasionally some pain) you can achieve your goals. Denver is our start on a journey with Casey.

    Shari, as always, very eloquently written!

  28. hmmm. Picture this, A sphere covered with doors, singers of all descriptions standing at all of them. Then there is this one door shaped like a guitar and there is Casey and Chrystal, Mike, Lee and Tim and some others that penetrate through the screening membrane. There a new life takes on shape. At first we can't tell what it will turn out to be. A boy or a girl? They were predicting a girl. So surprise, with no words, just love, music is born. What will it be when it matures? That my friends, we will have to wait and see.

  29. I know Casey understands it took all kinds of fans to put him in the top 3. I am 63 years old and never wrote a fan letter in my entire life until Casey came along. As he said himself, he is just "some dude" from Texas, but that dude stole our hearts. I will see him on Wednesday in St. Louis and I will be screaming as loud as those 20-something fans. Thanks Shari!!!
    Karen Smith (kdsaa4)

  30. Shari,
    Thinking about what it took for Casey to even make it past the Denver audition is a miracle. With so many people waiting (9000) to have their one shot in front of the producers is a huge mountain to climb, but climb he did. I believe with all my heart that the Lord has had Casey’s path directed, ever since he said to God right before the impact of his motorcycle accident, I never got the chance to do this life right (paraphrased). God gave Casey the chance to do this life right and that is exactly what Casey has done. God did not give it back to him on a silver platter. Casey had to work for his chance and that is exactly what Casey did, not only in his fight to walk again but the fight to do the one thing that he loves to do more than anything, play his guitar. The pain that he had to endure is something most people will never know in their lifetime. The will to overcome and prove all the experts wrong seems to run deep in his soul. When most would have given in God gave Casey the grace to endure and persevere. I am like you Shari, I don’t claim to know Casey or know what he is thinking but I do know the Casey that I envision him to be, the Casey that in my heart I believe him to be. He is a man that stands strong in his religious beliefs; he doesn’t judge or want to be judged. He doesn’t believe that anything is due him. Casey accepts what life gives him and believes that it is all for a reason and a purpose. Whether it be good or bad it all is purposeful and has meaning to him. He loves with a passion and that is sometimes hard to find these days. He has strong core values that he will not waiver on. He is the most humble guy that I have ever had the pleasure to be acquainted with. It all seems such an honor for him and when he speaks of his fans it is with a smile and a twitter wink that he says so. Full circle, a beautiful story for a beautiful soul, but thank goodness his journey does not end there. It is only the beginning of the rest of his life.

    May God continue to bless you Casey in all that you do.

  31. I loved reading this, as simple as that :) a piece of writing that makes you think and gets us to start asking ourselves all these very important questions. you're a fantastic writer Shari.

  32. ...Only LOVE forever...He is the ONE...our BABY JESUS...our BLONDE JESUS...The best ARTIST* and simply the Best PERSONALITY ever...CASEY JAMES!!!I'm proud to be Casey James fan forever!May GOD continue to BLESS you CASEY in all that you do ! May GOD BLESS your MOMMA and family!I love you so much!Love from Latvians.

    *My favorite quote from the Nadia:
    " Singers are easily available, but musicians like Casey is scarce.
    People keep on talking about his guitar playing because it is so
    special, it is not something you come across everyday."

  33. Thank you Shari !!! GOD BLESS you.

  34. Back in school now (teacher), and the first thing I do when I get home is scan the internet for news on Casey James. First, see if he tweeted, next see what all the fans have been tweeting, next read Shari's articles that always leave me with tears in my eyes. I will even look at my students in a different way. Think of the things these kids can do if I can instill "Casey Qualities" in them. I will be a Casey James fan for life! Love the man and love the music!

  35. Another amazing article Shari, I so look forward to reading them! I love Casey's yellow note tweets, that one just brought tears to my eyes!

  36. Hey Shari,

    Thanks for another touching tribute to the fantastic artist and wonderful human being, Casey Everett James. Well said, and much appreciated as always (I noticed Casey sent you a tweet yesterday about this pic! Cool!) :)


  37. "Go find your Denver."

    I like that -- very much. This was your best post so far and summarized why we love Casey so much. He represents the best in all of us and is inspirational to many.

  38. I'm sure glad that Casey didn't give up his dream
    and also happy his Mom talked him into going to
    that fateful audition! I can't imagine if we had
    never discovered him and missed out on the wonderful musician and person that he is!
    Thank you for another great article Shari!