Lee DeWyze feels right at home at Linfield

Kaho Akau, Staff Writer

In a music industry full of vocal talent, one thing separates the good from the great.

Lee DeWyze, season nine winner of American Idol, emphasized the importance of songwriting during his Cat Cab performance Friday night in Fred Meyer Lounge.

It’s rare to see a contestant on American Idol sing an original song. Most performers use cover songs to display their vocal abilities. Although the competition serves as a starting block, it overshadows another side of the music industry that artists don’t think about.

“The whole last album, I focused on songwriting more than singing,” DeWyze said. “American Idol helps with building a singing career, but you need to actually write songs if you want to be a singer.”

DeWyze uses past experiences with love and friendships to fuel most of his lyrical writing. Between songs, he shared a comparison between Fred Meyer Lounge and the basement of a friend’s home, where he often played in his youth.

“It’s dark in here. This brings me back to hanging out and singing with my friends. Some of the best memories happened in my friend’s basement,” he said.

Since winning American Idol in 2010, DeWyze released three albums and plans to release another by the end of the year. One of his hit singles, “Blackbird Song,” was used in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” As a fan of the show, he wrote the song without producers even knowing about it.

“I wrote the song on my own. I showed them and they liked it so they decided to put it in one of the episodes,” he said. “It was nothing I’ve ever done before. To be able to write a song for my favorite show was cool.”

DeWyze has a sister living in Portland and admires Oregon’s scenery. The Mount Prospect, Illinois native said that the drive to McMinnville reminded him of the Midwestern town that he grew up in.

“I got lost trying to find this building, but I’m glad I did. I was able to walk around earlier. This is a beautiful campus,” he said.