BY: Nicole Evatt
NEW YORK – Even though “American Idol” contestant Chris Medina got cut before the finalists were announced, he’s already living out his recording-star dreams with the debut of his first single.
The ballad “What Are Words” was written especially for Medina by Grammy-winning producer Rodney Jerkins; the video has already racked up more than 1 million views on Vevo.
During the Milwaukee auditions of “Idol,” the 26-year-old barista moved the judges with his soulful rendition of The Script’s “Breakeven” and his heart-wrenching backstory as caretaker for fiancée, Juliana Ramos. Ramos suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident just months before they planned to walk down the aisle.
Home videos of Ramos are featured in the “What Are Words” music video, as well as footage of their coffee house proposal and old photos of the smiling couple. A percentage of the single’s iTunes sales will be dedicated to the Juliana Recovery Fund.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the Illinois native talked about the song, being famous and if he’ll ever say, “I do.”
AP: How has life been post ‘Idol?’
Medina: It’s been post-traumatic awesome. It’s been fantastic. It’s just so cool, so surreal. It’s really a dream.
AP: Are fans stopping you on the street?
Medina: Yes, I have been recognized a lot. We just discussed this — when I have my hair back I don’t really get stopped. But when I have my hair down I get stopped quite a bit. I still don’t consider myself famous .unless I have my own magazine and until I walk into a bar and people’s eyes open real wide and they pop with positivity.
AP: How does Juliana feel about being famous?
Medina: She loves it and you know, I can understand why. I can see why she loves it so much, you know, strangers walking up to her and giving her words of encouragement going, “You’re going to do this. You’re going to get better. I pray for you and you inspire me.” It makes her try harder. It makes her want it, you know. I’m glad that this all turned out the way it did.
AP: How did you feel about Jennifer Lopez crying after cutting you from the show?”
Medina: I was shocked, surprised that she reacted to me the way she did. Because she was that way because she felt she didn’t send me on my way properly and I thought she did a fantastic job. … It was like getting hit with a pillow. It wasn’t really like getting hit with a ton of bricks. And I think also being in the situation with my fiancee, it’s just kind of, you learn not to expect anything anymore. You’re just happy that you’re in the situation that you’re in. So I never expected to win. I just was happy to be there.
AP: You’ve put your marriage plans on hold for now, right?
Medina: The goal is for it not to be indefinitely, by no stretch. It’s definitely something that I dream about and that I hope comes true, but I don’t want to put that type of pressure on her. She has enough pressure trying to get out of bed and make it to the bathroom or hold a cup of water. It’s tough. These brain injuries the hardest thing I think I’ve ever seen anybody go through and I don’t want to put that pressure on her. I don’t want to put that pressure on myself either. I just know that before she’s my wife and before she’s my fiancee, she’s my best friend.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.