PM: I read about you being on ABC’s Rising Star in 2014. You finished as the runner up, right?
AF: Yes. I did.
PM: That’s exciting! Tell us about that experience.
AF: Rising Star came out of nowhere in a way. I got a phone call on April Fool’s Day, out of all days, from an executive producer of the show. The background was, when I was in my senior year of high school my mom signed me up to go audition for The Voice.
She let me skip my first day of senior year and go to Disneyworld. (She was definitely playing her cards there to get me to go audition.) I ended up getting to the blind auditions in Los Angeles that year. No one turned around and I was super bummed. I couldn’t understand why God would take me all the way out there for me just to go right back home. Three years later is when I got the phone call from this executive producer who had been a producer on The Voice. She was starting this new show and she remembered me. She was like, “I really want you to be a part of the show.” I thought it was an April Fool’s joke, so I hung up on her.
PM: No, you didn’t!
AF: I was like, “You will never get me with this, this is such a joke,” and I hung up on her.
PM: Oh my goodness, that is too funny.
AF: Yeah, so then I looked it up and it was real; everything she said was real. I called back and I begged her, “Please let me be a part of this.”
PM: That’s hysterical.
AF: Yup, so I ended up doing the show. Actually, a big part of the process as well was I was getting married that summer and we had already sent out invitations, set the venue, paid for everything, and were ready to get married. The show came out of nowhere and they asked me to be a part of it. I was honestly going to tell them no because it was right in the middle of my wedding. I was like, “I can’t miss my wedding!”
One of the casting producers told me I made it on the show. I told her I wasn’t going to be able to do it because I was getting married. She said, “In your audition you told us you were a Christian. Well, Christians pray, right? That’s where God gives you wisdom and guidance on what you should do?” I answered, “Absolutely.” Then she asked, “Well, have you prayed about doing the show?” I said, “I haven’t. I haven’t prayed about doing the show. I have my plans set and this is what I’m doing this summer.”
She said, “Well pray about it and call me back tomorrow.” We prayed about it, me and my fiancée, and we had no idea how we were still going to get married and how everything was going to work out; but we knew that God had given us the direction do it, and so we jumped in with faith and prayed that God would do miracles. And He did. We ended up getting married in the middle of the show.
PM: That’s great!
AF: I flew home on a Thursday, got married on a Friday, and then flew home on early, early Sunday morning and performed on live television that night.
PM: Wow, that is so cool! After that experience, did that open up any doors for your musical career?
AF: It was. After the show I got to talk on TV about my faith, about Jesus, and about where my heart was at. There was one guy that really saw that and he’s my manager now. He reached out to me after the show about working together. Then from that process, he knew a couple guys in Nashville. He had never worked in Christian music before, but we both felt like God brought us together.
We sat down, and he had done some mainstream managing in the secular industry for a while. He had been praying to get into the Christian industry because he was kind of a new believer. Seven years before that he had accepted Jesus and wanted to get back into the industry. So he had been praying and I walked in. I said, “I want to be a Christian artist,” and he was like, “This is crazy, let’s do this!”
PM: Wow. You cannot deny the hand of God in that.
AF: Absolutely. I feel like every day I step back and I think, “How is this even possible?” It just speaks of the goodness of God. He writes our dreams for us that we don’t even know we’re dreaming yet.
Read the rest of Austin French’s interview in the April issue of YS magazine.
Captain Pamela Maynor, Editor of Young Salvationist