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Support for 'Idol' Giraud hits new gear

March 19, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University graduate Matt Giraud is winning the hearts of television watchers coast-to-coast and setting off a huge campaign in his home state to elect him as the nation's next "American Idol."

After being voted off the show once by viewers and rescued by the famous FOX television show's panel of judges, Giraud has hit his stride, wowing both judges and viewers alike with his soulful interpretations of cover songs delivered from behind a grand piano.

Giraud survived the latest round of cuts after a stellar performance on Tuesday night, becoming one of the final 10 contestants on the show. Even Simon Cowell, the most vocal critic on the "American Idol" panel of judges, extolled the 23-year-old Giraud's vocals, saying he out sang the show's frontrunner, Danny Gokey, and comparing him to pop singer Michael Bublé. Giraud got the good news that he had made the cut on Wednesday night's program.

Giraud, who grew up in Ypsilanti, Mich., is a 2007 WMU graduate and sang for two years with GC II, an offshoot of the School of Music's acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble, Gold Company. In 2007, he and fellow WMU student Gerald Mattei won an award from DownBeat magazine in the 30th Annual Student Music Awards.

Giraud's continued good fortunes have generated a wave of excitement in Kalamazoo and across Michigan and prompted a phone-in campaign to get him elected the next "American Idol."

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell has asked Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to join him in urging the state's viewers to call after the next show and vote for Giraud. Viewers have up to two hours after the show to call in their vote. In 2007, Granholm touted Idol finalist and Flint native LaKisha Jones. Jones ended up coming in fourth.

Hopewell also has taken Giraud's cause to his Facebook page and urged economic development leaders to climb on board at a recent meeting. He told the Kalamazoo Gazette he plans to e-mail other mayors across the state to enlist their support for Giraud.

Giraud has been a frequent performer at the local establishments Zazio's and Monaco Bay Piano Bar and Grill in downtown Kalamazoo, with Hopewell stopping down regularly to catch Giraud's shows.

The contest resumes Wednesday, March 25, when Giraud and the other nine finalists perform again. In another Michigan twist, the program will salute Motown Records, which was founded in Detroit and operated there for many years before moving to Los Angeles.

The hit show is setting up this week to shoot footage at the Motown Historical Museum. According to the Detroit Free Press, Detroit icons Berry Gordy Jr. and Smokey Robinson will mentor the show's 10 finalists through a series of Hitsville songs in Motown's old Studio A. The taped segments are to air next week before the contestants perform the songs live on the show's Los Angeles stage.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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