There are many people who subscribe to the “10,000 hour rule” as a guidepost to success: the more you do something, the better you get at it. If you do reach the 10,000 milestone, it is believed that you’ve mastered something. Nick Fradiani has been playing guitar and singing since he was about ten years old; if he isn’t at the 10k mark yet, he’s awfully close.
Nick grew up in suburban Connecticut, the oldest child of a teacher mom and a musician dad. Music was always part of the household as Nick recalls, “Before I could talk, my dad said I’d hum along to music.” It wasn’t long before Nick Sr. could tell that Nick Jr. had the bug. “My dad was my musical tour-guide, so he laid the groundwork for the type of music I liked. I never listened to any kid’s music, I gravitated toward The Beatles, Billy Joel, Elton John and Tom Petty. My father gave me my first guitar because he could see I wanted to play along with what I was listening to. He taught me the basics and I took off from there.”
While taking off included a lot of talent nights in grammar school, a few ‘battle of the bands’ and joining his dad onstage, Nick actually leaned toward sports more than music. In fact, his father, who made a living performing with his band on cruise ships and casinos, cut back on traveling as Nick got older so he could coach his teams and catch his games. Nick was such a good athlete that he went to Wheaton College to study history and play basketball, though an injury sidelined him his freshman year. While he never gave up on music, he suddenly found himself with a lot of time on his hands. “I’d written a few songs before, but nothing that I ever thought was worth showing anyone. When I was recovering from my ankle injury, I started writing original music and played the songs for my dad. He thought they were good enough to help me start booking club dates up and down the East Coast.”
At first, Nick would play during breaks from school and was earning enough to forgo a summer job. “I not only became a better musician during this time, but I realized this was truly my passion. I graduated from college, and started my Masters Degree in teaching, but didn’t want to take the time off to student teach. I really wanted to keep playing my music.”
Around this same time Nick began fronting the band Beach Avenue, who had some local success. They appeared on a television show and went on to sell 20,000 singles on iTunes and gig regionally. Nick was working a day job, plus performing with his band at night, and he knew something had to give.
Gonna chase down our every desire
“I was tired all the time, and I wasn’t giving 100% to my job or to my music. I wasn’t writing as well as I could because of how exhausted I was, and I knew I had to do one or the other. That’s when I decided to go all in on music. Two months later, I tried out for American Idol.”
Interestingly, Nick tried out because friends and family encouraged him. “My mind frame was really ‘if it works out, it works out,’ which I think ultimately helped me because I didn’t overthink things. I was pretty relaxed until I was one of the Top 8 finalists, and then I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I could win this.”
As the Season 14 winner, Nick will not only be headlining the Idol tour, but he is watching his first solo single, “Beautiful Life,” [written by Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba] climb up the Billboard charts. “I’ve always written music and thought my advantage over other singers was being a good songwriter. On the show, they choose a final song for you. I was nervous because my passion is performing my own music. Once I heard “Beautiful Life,” I was immediately comfortable because it connected with me right away. The song suited my style, so much so that I felt like I could have written it, which made it easy for me to really deliver it.”
In addition to traversing the US promoting his single and visiting radio stations, Nick has already begun the creative process for his album, his first for Big Machine Records. He has been writing on his own, and will be doing some co-writing sessions up until he leaves to go on tour. Nick’s goal is to continue to write while on the road, and he is hoping to fit some recording sessions in between dates as well. After the tour wraps, Nick will solely focus on being in the Studio, readying his album for release. “I literally cannot wait to go in to the Studio and start writing. My favorite thing in the world is to perform original music live. When you write a song you’re proud of, and you know it’s good, there’s no better feeling. I am also looking forward to co-writing with people. I love collaborating, and the whole process of recording music is just so exciting to me.”
Nick Fradiani is not an overnight success, which turned out to serve him well since he had time to earn those ten thousand hours. “I know I am in the right place, at the right time. Obviously, I didn’t know all this was going to happen, but I always truly believed in my heart that I’d make my mark in music. I never got worried, I knew I’d get there. I never lost faith.”