March 20, 2014 | by Keith Loria
Ultimate launching pad
Crystal Bowersox, gay news, Washington Blade

Crystal Bowersox likes to test candidates for upcoming releases during her live show. She plays Wolf Trap next week. (Photo courtesy Wolf Trap)

Crystal Bowersox

The Barns at Wolf Trap

1635 Trap Road, Vienna, Va.

Wednesday

8 p.m.

Tickets: $24-28

Wolftrap.org

Conventional wisdom has it that the holidays are not a good time to come out.

Crystal Bowersox didn’t quite do it around a Christmas Day family meal, but she definitely didn’t follow the usual path either.

When Bowersox released her Christmas album last December, one of the songs was called “Coming Out For Christmas” and the singer came out as bisexual during her touting of the record.

“I think it’s important that people in the public eye be public about where they stand and who they are because it will give kids around the world the confidence to be who they are,” she says. “It’s not good for anyone to hate any aspect of themselves and I think it sets a good example for young people to love themselves.”

America was introduced to Bowersox in 2010 as a contestant on “American Idol,” a single mother with dreadlocks who had a voice that crossed the territories of blues, country, folk and rock. Although she finished second to Lee DeWyze, her star was on the rise.

“Before ‘Idol,’ I had never done any excessive touring. I did some local gigs in my hometown and I was happy doing what I was doing,” she says. “When I had my son, I realized I wasn’t doing it on the level I needed to be doing it on to provide a stable income and life for my child.”

Historically, “American Idol” has elevated a number of members of the LGBT community to fame, including former runners-up Clay Aiken (season two) and Adam Lambert (season eight) — but like Bowersox, none came out until after their time on the show was over. Still, their braveness paved the way for the show’s first openly gay contestant, MK Nobilette, to compete and make it to the top 10 this season.

“The show changes your life in every possible way. There’s no other way to be heard by 30 million people,” Bowersox says. “The show gave me everything. It gave me a sounding board, industry cred and taught me what I was capable of as a performer. I learned a lot and now I can take what I learned and go out there and do what I do.”

The “American Idol” fave makes her Wolf Trap debut on Wednesday. Bowersox will play tunes off her critically acclaimed debut album “Farmer’s Daughter,” her latest “All That For This” and an EP she released quietly pre-“Idol” called “Once Upon a Time.” She also plans some possible candidates for an upcoming EP. She likes to sing them live to gauge audience reaction.

“It will be an evening of songs and storytelling,” she says. “I really like to interact with my audience and my show is like an on-going conversation with them. During the show people are calling things out and we’re telling jokes and having a lot of fun. I just hope people come, are entertained and leave feeling good.”

One of the things she loves most about a concert date is seeing the audience singing along with her — something she never imagined would happen.

“It’s nice to have recognition in something you created and have a crowd know every single word and sing them back to you,” she says. “That’s the true reward of being a singer/songwriter and performer.”

Bowersox will also surprise one lucky audience member with a trip to join her on stage, and after the show, she will make herself available for photos and autographs to every single person who wants one.

“I love to say hello and meet people,” she says. “I get a lot of feedback from people after the show and I just want them to be honest and help me know what’s working for my fans and what isn’t.”

Bowersox is also attached to the musical, “Always … Patsy Cline,” which has been rumored to make it to Broadway sometime in the next year. The singer plays the famous title character and croons the best of Cline.

She’s fulfilling a dream she’s had since she was little. In first grade, Bowersox played Suzy Snowflake in a school production and from there on in, wanted to perform for a living.

“I always loved to sing and dance but didn’t know I could make money doing it,” she says. “Eventually, I learned I didn’t have to go and get a job at Burger King, I could get people to pay for this service. I haven’t done much else since then. I am very lucky that I could do what I love for a living.”

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