KCUR News
8:39 am
Wed May 21, 2008

Local David Cook Sings for American Idol Title

Kansas City, MO – Blue Springs native David Cook will find out if enough television viewers picked up the phone and voted to make him the next American Idol. Last night, Judge Paula Abdul applauded the 25 year old rocker.

Paula Abdul: "David Cook has arrived. Amen, amen! And you're in great voice tonight!"

Cook is competing against 17-year-old David Archuleta for the title and a major label recording contract. KCUR's Maria Carter reports on David Cook's local roots and the reaction he's receiving in Kansas City.

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Last night hundreds of people gathered outside at the power and light district, screaming for local favorite David Cook as he began to belt out U2's, I Still haven't Found What I'm Looking For. [music] DiDi is 13 and just bought a black, David Cook T-Shirt. She's watched every episode and says Cook is humble and a good singer, but he has another advantage.

DiDi: "Yeah, it's really cool to say he's from here because there's not very many people from here."

Cook graduated from Blue Springs South High School in 2001. His choir teacher Phil Szajnuk says Cook always had a good voice, but he was also well-rounded. He pitched on the varsity baseball team, competed in forensics, and played in a garage band on the weekend. But Szajnuk says what made cook stand out was his drive. He played the best-friend role in a high school production of Singin' in the Rain.

[Cook's high school production of Singin' in the Rain ]

Dancing, sliding, and hurling himself into pratfalls, Szajnuk says Cook was relentless in getting the part just right.

Phil Szajnuk: "We'd say that's good David. That'll be fine. He'd say no, I want to practice this again and this again. and kind of put his own spin on it you know. He was a perfectionist in a lot of ways."

On American idol, Cook's one contestant not known for show tunes. Instead, it's his rock'n'roll take on pop songs that has won him acclaim.

[Music]

Tim Finn is a music critic for the Kansas City Star and has been blogging American Idol.

Tim Finn: "I like what he did to that song. He roughed it up you know. And I think when you hear that kind of music you don't think of a guy like Lionel Richie who made it this really kind of sweet ballad."

Cook's quick rise to the top of the American Idol pack has created a fervor in his home town of Blue Springs. City spokesperson Merideth Parrish helped organize Cook's recent American Idol homecoming, where more than 12-thousand people turned out.

Merideth Parish: "That's about a third of our people."

Parish says David Cook is the buzz of Blue Springs. For weeks, hundreds of people have been turning up at weekly Idol watch parties at Sidepockets. Teenage girls and even some of their moms don David Cook shirts and talk about the latest Idol results. Parrish says Cook represents the best of Blue Springs.

Merideth Parrish: "It's not so much we're hoping to capitalize on his fame or his celebrity status, but really to showcase how we really get behind people from our community, how we really show support for our homegrown talent."

Viewers will find out tonight if Cook took the title, but what happens to Cook, win or lose, his musical success after American Idol may be uncertain. Winners and near winners both have gone on to successful recording careers, while others have fallen into obscurity.

WEB EXTRAS:
Listen to an extended interview about American Idol with the Kansas City Star's Timothy Finn.
David Cook sings U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" in the American Idol Finale
Cook sings "Hello", originally recorded by Lionel Ritchie
David Cook in a Blue Springs Sough High School performance of "Singin' in the Rain"