Jason Warrior, the music teacher who grew up in Roseland, is wowing the American Idol judges with a little help from Marvin Gaye!
- Jason, how you doing?
JASON WARRIOR: Good morning, good morning, Jose.
- Well. I hear you are showing out out there in Hollywood. [LAUGHS]
JASON WARRIOR: Man, I'm having a great time out here.
- Is it everything you expected it to be?
JASON WARRIOR: You know what? Honestly, Jose, I have to be honest. It is blowing my mind every step of the way. So I literally had no expectations walking into this competition. But it is blowing my mind every step of the way.
- How was your life changed in the past few weeks?
JASON WARRIOR: I've become more aware of myself as an artist, you know? Before, I just felt like I had a lot and that I had to prove, you know, to so many people. And now it's just as if I don't feel that way anymore. I can just genuinely be myself, you know? And that feels great. It feels so good.
- To be finally fulfilling your passion, I know you're teaching for a living, but your passion has always been music. And [INAUDIBLE] here you are.
JASON WARRIOR: My God. Yeah, my passion has always been music ever since I was a kid, you know? Growing up on the South side of Chicago, in church, being a part of the Soul Children of Chicago, that's where, you know, I learned all of these things that I know now. And so you can't take that away, as I say, you can take the boy out of Chicago, but you can't take the Chicago out of the boy. [LAUGHS]
- You're representing well, sir. We appreciate that. Keep on going
JASON WARRIOR: Absolutely.
- Now, you always had this dream along with your grandmother. How is that touching your heart right now?
JASON WARRIOR: Oh, again, it's-- it's actually-- that is one of the things that real life does blow my mind because my grandmother was the one that had the dream first, right? She's the one that saw me being on the "American Idol" stages. And to have that conversation with her after having done all these other shows, it's just like, this is actually happening now. And is this that moment? Is this that time, you know? So, yeah.
- Well, speaking of other shows, you have a kind of a negative experience with some of the shows, right, or a another show. [CHUCKLES]
JASON WARRIOR: [LAUGHS] I wouldn't-- I wouldn't necessarily say that it was a learning experience, not-- not, you know, completely negative, but it was definitely a learning experience for me, you know?
- What happened? Can you talk about it? [CHUCKLES] No, I got it. We're OK. We're cool.
We'll just say, you've learned a lot about the show business game.
JASON WARRIOR: Oh, yeah.
- So what's the next step? Judges have been really supportive of you right now. They really like you. How are you feeling about being around all the other singers? I mean, 'cause everybody's bringing their A game.
JASON WARRIOR: Oh, my god. The talent this season-- ah, and they've said it themselves the talent this season is impeccable, it is amazing. So to be surrounded by all these other talented individuals, it is-- it is a blessing because we allow each other that time to, of course, learn from each other as well.
You see what another person is doing on stage. You can actually take something from what you see them doing, and not just the contestants, but the judges themselves. We got legends-- Lionel Richie. Lionel Richie-- yeah, OK?
Then you got Katy Perry and Luke Bryant. Like, it doesn't get any better than this. And as I tell a lot of people, what "American Idol" was doing here, it is so much more than just a show. I almost feel as though I am in some sort of teaching, like seminar or something. They're literally teaching us things here. And that is what I am beyond grateful for, is I'm learning so much about my true self and me being an artist. So, yeah--
- Speaking of judges--
JASON WARRIOR: --this is it.
- Speaking of judges, Jason, how does it feel to have the legendary Lionel Richie believe so strongly in you and your talent?
JASON WARRIOR: You know, that, for me, I literally spent a lot of time thinking about those words. And I felt defeated, you know? I felt defeated before.
But having someone who has been in this game who has been down-- been down this road say, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, don't let that destroy you, woo, that-- that did something for me because it's like I needed that.
I need that reassurance. I needed that reassurance. And for it to come from someone such as Lionel Richie, one of Motown's finest, it definitely helped me out a lot.
- Now, I know that you are a very spiritual person. You have a strong belief system. How has this all-- how has that affected you in this journey?
JASON WARRIOR: You know, you gotta stay-- and I tell people this. You gotta stay close to God as much as you can. You gotta stay close to God as much as you can.
What I've realized is this doesn't happen every single day. Everyone don't get these opportunities to come on these shows like this, but God has a specific plan for me. I don't exactly understand it. I don't exactly know what it is. I don't know why he have me doing the things that he have me doing, but I do know that he has a plan.
And all I have to do is just continue to hold on to his unchanging hand and just hold onto that faith, and that's what I believe. Everything has been moving according to his plan. It's not up to me at all.
- It's been moving at a whirlwind pace. Do you ever have a moment to just sit back and reflect on how good God has been to you?
JASON WARRIOR: Absolutely. Every day. Every morning I wake up-- I wake up every morning here. I'm still stuck on Chicago time a little bit, but I'm waking up every morning at 4 or 5 o'clock and just having a moment of worship and just praise because, no, really, as you just said, to sit back and think about how good God has been to me.
Being an African-American male coming from the South side of Chicago, we know that the statistics are completely against me. So to see that I'm doing some of these things, you got to say that it's nobody but God, it's nobody but God. So yeah, I have to sit back and say, you know what? God, you have been amazing and I'm grateful.
- Man, you have come a long way from the Soul Children of Chicago.
JASON WARRIOR: Yes, sir.
- How is that-- how has that foundation helped you?
JASON WARRIOR: Ah, again, that's another one of the things I'm grateful for. I tell Dr. Walt Whitman that he literally have instilled so much into us at a young age that is something that I can't ever forget. The discipline, being able to communicate my performance and my styles to different groups of audiences, being able to interpret music in so many different ways. I definitely owe a big part of that to Dr. Walt Whitman, absolutely.
- So Jason, how do you feel about your chances out there?
JASON WARRIOR: Jose, you know, as I said before, God has a plan, you know? God has a plan. And whatever happens, I'm grateful because I've been given this chance to come back and show the world that what you saw was an immature version of me that was not quite ready yet.
But now, I had to go through-- I had to go through that. But now, I'm ready. And I'm so excited to continue to show the world that, even after "American Idol," you will see the artist Jason Warrior continue to push and continue to fight. That's what I love to do.
- Well, Jason Warrior has a huge fan base back here in Chicago. Do you have a message for all the people who are supporting you?
JASON WARRIOR: Absolutely. First off, thank you. Thank you for supporting me. Second off, look at the people that's around you. Tell them they can do it, too. They can do it, too.
All you have to do is keep going. Push until something happen. Pray until something happen. Don't give up. That's how you're going to reach your true success. You can't give up.
- Pretty good, pretty good. How-- what's been your favorite performance that you've done.
JASON WARRIOR: Ah, [LAUGHS] listen, honestly, my favorite performance thus far I would have to say was my audition simply because I love Marvin Gaye. I'm an old soul. And it just doesn't get any better than old school music for me and being able to interpret those messages through those type of songs.
So it was a great performance. And listen, I gotta say, Sunday's performance is going to be one as well that I'm excited for everyone to see. So make sure you all tune in Sunday to "American Idol" as well.
- One final question for you, sir. Who do you want to pattern your career after? Who are your musical idols?
JASON WARRIOR: Ah, I do have a list of musical idols from John Legend to Alicia Keys to the great PJ Morton to Kirk Franklin, you know? But as I really sit back and I look, each one of them or individuals. You know, they were individual artists.
And I don't necessarily want to pattern my style after anyone, but I want to, in a sense, walk in my own lane and create my own name and become a household name as well, so.
- So you got something big, something special forces on Sunday.
JASON WARRIOR: Yes, sir. [LAUGHS]
- You can't give us a hint or anything?
JASON WARRIOR: Nah, Jose, you know I can't do that.
You know I can't do that.
- Well, I tried, I tried.
Good luck, Jason. 'Preciate you.
JASON WARRIOR: Thank you so much, man. I really do appreciate you, sir.
- We got our fingers crossed for you. Take care of yourself.
JASON WARRIOR: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
- Thank you so much, Jason, for waking up so early. We appreciate it.
JASON WARRIOR: Absolutely. But to get back and talk to you guys, I was definitely going to wake up early.
JASON WARRIOR: When I see-- Jose, look-- Jose, I gotta tell you. I've been-- I don't want to make you-- you know, know your age or anything, but I've been watching you since I was, you know, a little shorty growing up, so--
- Since you-- before-- since before you were born, right I know that's right.
JASON WARRIOR: Look, I'll be 26 next week. So I don't know if that changes anything, but, yes, definitely, it's great talking to you, sir. And I-- look, I look forward to connecting with you again in the future.
- OK, same here, same here. And look, I'll see you at the Grammys.
JASON WARRIOR: Ooh, yes, sir. I love it. Yes, sir. [LAUGHS]
- Take care of yourself, man.
JASON WARRIOR: All right, now, you as well.