December 31, 2020 -
Louis Knight on performing during a pandemic and the day he almost quit

Penn Live | Written by Julia Hatmaker | Link

DATE: 22 May 2020
SOURCE: Penn Live
AUTHOR: Julia Hatmaker

Louis Knight may not be the next “American Idol,” but he’s still a star. The Montgomery County pizza deliverer-turned singer made it to the top seven of the ABC singing competition series, beating out hundreds upon hundreds of hopefuls. He performed in Hawaii and Hollywood, before his in-person “American Idol” was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic and the show shifted to a remote format — which meant Knight welcomed the audience to his home in Narberth to perform in his bedroom and on his deck. Throughout the process he garnered praise from celebrity judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

He isn’t letting not winning the competition sour his perspective on his experience on the show.

“I couldn’t be upset with how it ended,” Knight said. “It was such an incredible journey,” he reflected. “I learned so much and have been able to grow so much not only as an artist and a musician but I feel like as a person.”

Throughout his “American Idol” journey, Knight’s fanbase has exploded. In one episode, producers even showed Knight a clip of a fan enthusiastically listening to his performance. “Kelsey!” Knight said, recalling the fans name. “I remember. That was just crazy.”

“The support has been just so incredible,” he said.

When Idol first began, most of the feedback he received was from people who were touched by his audition song “Change,” which deals with the death of a close friend by suicide. “I’ve had so many people reaching out to me to say how they connected to the song and how it helped them through rough times,” Knight said. “That has been such an incredible thing for me because that’s all I could hope for from that song.”

As Idol progressed the focus shifted past his song to Knight himself. “The fact that there are people out there watching me every week, putting their belief in me and watching as I grow — it’s truly just fills my heart with joy really,” he said. “It’s hard to fathom.”

Even with a group of supporters, though, there were moments of doubt. There was one night, at the end of Hollywood Week, where Knight almost quit. His roommate had been sent home, the stress was mounting and for the past three days he estimated that he had only slept for a little over 4 hours.

“I was so sleep deprived,” Knight recalled. “So that last day I woke up in basically a panic attack… I started packing my suitcase and said I couldn’t do it. I locked myself in my hotel room.”

It took the show’s production team and a visit from Knight’s family to calm him down and get him out. That day he performed and secured his spot in the top 40.

“I ended up going out and performing on a day when I thought I couldn’t,” Knight said. “That’s a day I will remember for the rest of my life… It taught me so much about perseverance and what you’re truly capable of.”

“American Idol” didn’t only push Knight to succeed, it also made him a better musician and performer. “My singing has definitely improved a lot in the last few months — I hope so anyway!” he laughed.

Performing at home added another twist to his “American Idol” journey. He had been in Los Angeles preparing for the live shows when producers told the contestants they had to go home. By that time, Pennsylvania had already entered lockdown because of the coronavirus. For a while, no one knew what would happen to the show and season. He remains thankful that the Idol crew persevered and found a way to do the show remotely.

That switch gave Knight a crash course in TV production. He became much more involved in the behind-the-scenes work of putting on the show, working with producers, directors and lighting experts to set up the three iPhones that recorded his performances and getting the backdrops just right. He did, sadly, have to give two of the iPhones back, but the show let him keep one of them as a souvenir.

While he prepared his “set,” he also was taking hours worth of lessons with the show’s vocal coaches, all with the help of Zoom.

Because the results are released live, Knight had a song ready to go for the finale. He was set to perform “Never Really Over” by Katy Perry — a bold choice considering Perry is a judge on the show. He was also prepared to sing his original “Change,” the song that got him the “American Idol” golden ticket in the first place.

It’s his original music that Knight wants to focus on in his post-Idol days. He plans to release a video of an acoustic performance of a new original song “Maybe That” in late May. The song is one of his favorites. Another song, “Twisted Conversations,” is set to premiere in mid June. Because he can’t do live shows, he plans to do a bunch of Instagram live performances (his username on Instagram is @louisknightmusic). He also plans to be in the studio working on an album as soon as he can.

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