Colin Stough Talks Incredible Journey From Mississippi to ‘American Idol’ [EXCLUSIVE]

Colin Stough captured hearts all over the country when he competed on the most recent season of American Idol. The Mississippi native came in third, long enough to make fans clamor for more of genre-bending music, and his soaring, rich vocals.

Stough was an early stand-out from the beginning, when he auditioned in front of Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, singing Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” Ironically, although Stough knew he had some talent, it was his mother who signed him up for the reality TV talent show, and until he was singing in front of the three celebrity judges, he was pretty sure the whole thing was a sham.

“My mom told me, ‘I’m gonna sign you up for American Idol,” Stough recalls to Everything Nash. “I was like, ‘No, you’re not. Don’t do that.’ I really didn’t think I was good enough to be out there doing that with all of them. And when she called me up, I was leaving work. She was like, Hey, you need to go by so-and-so’s house and sit down and do these interviews with these folks. Take your guitar.’ And I was like, ‘Mama, I don’t think that you did the right thing.’ I tell everybody this, and it’s the honest-to-God truth: I thought she was getting scammed the whole time.”

After completing all of the interviews, which lasted about three hours, and he was told he would get to perform in front of the judges on American Idol, Stough was skeptical.

“I still thought it was a scam,” Stough concedes. “I got back home and Mama found out about it. And I told her, ‘I think it’s a scam. I think it’s a scam.’ Because you know how this world is — I get probably four or five scam calls a day.”



Even when Stough got his hotel information to officially audition for Idol in Louisiana, he was still unsure.

“I said, ‘Well, you gonna go with me? Because if they gonna get me, they gonna want to get you too,'” Stough remembers with a laugh. “We went and still, I didn’t think it was real the whole time. It was about 200 of us there. I knew everybody was acting serious about it, but I just didn’t know what they were acting serious about.  I’m still there the whole time, putting on a face. And I walked in there and showed up to them sitting in there, the judges.”

Stough admits he doesn’t know how he completed the audition because he was a “nervous wreck” the entire time, but he managed to impress them enough to send him through to Hollywood.

“For two weeks you go on thinking this is fake, and then you get to the last moment,” Stough reflects. “But we made it through, and they told me I was going to Hollywood.”

The gifted singer didn’t necessarily think he would make it all the way to the finale. The fact that he made it so far is a testament to his undeniable talent, but also he says to his strong Christian faith.

“They were stressing when we got off to rest, and make sure you get plenty of sleep to renew your vocals, and do this and do that,” Stough shares. “And I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t do any of that. I didn’t tell everybody not to do it. But I just sat there and I was like, ‘Look, no matter what I do, if God wants me to go through and do this, He’s going to put me through it.'”

Stough left American Idol and immediately got to work building his career, moving to Nashville to focus on music full-time. He has already released songs like “I Still Talk to Jesus,” and his debut EP, Promiseland, which includes “Lonely Hour,” “Sleep Tonight” and more. Stough will open for Chase Matthew on several dates this year. Find all of Stough’s music and upcoming shows at

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