Wheaton grad makes it to “American Idol” top 7

Who has over 24,000 likes on Facebook and is Wheaton-affiliated? If you guessed local celebs Cow Duck or Dennis Hanno, you’re wrong. It’s Nick Fradiani ’08, who, on April 8, became one of the final seven contestants on this season of American Idol.

Fradiani has always been an active musician and often shared his talent with the Wheaton community. A friend of his, Laura Bitler ’08, said, “Nick was a regular performer on campus while he was a student. BACCHUS hosted many events in the Lyons Den and the Loft where he would sing and play guitar.” Bitler recalls their group of friends making fan signs for Fradiani while he played, especially during a Battle of the Bands competition.

Fradiani has kept in close contact with many Wheaton friends, singing for the first dance at Justin Brown ’08 and Melanie Sosinski ’10’s wedding last summer.

Last year, Fradiani was on America’s Got Talent with his band Beach Avenue. Fradiani’s American Idol journey then started in August, when he made the last minute decision to audition. For the last eight months, Fradiani’s life has been focused on American Idol, and he said that it’s “a lot of fun and a great experience.”

Although Fradiani majored in history at Wheaton, he made the decision to be a full-time musician a long time ago. Fradiani’s father worked as a musician, and he inspired Nick to be the performer he is today. Fradiani stated that the most exciting part for him will always be getting on stage and performing, and that getting to do that every week has been one of the highlights of his journey so far.

Another exciting part for him is getting to spend time with “some pretty unbelievable mentors.” He said, “They’ve all been really effective in their own way;” however, Florida Georgia Line helped him with his song choice, which was important this week.

Fradiani is used to performing his own music, so he said that a challenge of being on American Idol for him has been “showing my true self through all this. Sometimes if you’re playing covers it’s hard to make everything your own and show true artistry through other people’s songs.”

Although Fradiani was recruited to Wheaton to play basketball, he left the team to pursue music, which clearly ended up being a great choice. He played at many open mics and was also involved in intermural sports. Fradiani “loved it at Wheaton.” About his experience here, he said, “Wheaton has you thinking a lot differently than other places.”

A highlight of his college experience was the people he met. Seven years after graduation, some of his Wheaton classmates are still his best friends.

Fradiani said to the Wheaton community, “Whoever’s at Wheaton, they made the right choice. If I could, I’d rewind and go back.” To those interested in music, he suggested, “Keep playing. If it’s something that you’re passionate about, keep doing it. If you think that this is what you’re supposed to do in life, you just have to keep pushing and working.”