Tribune-Courier News Editor
DRAFFENVILLE – Fans of the television program “American Idol” got a surprise Saturday night when a film crew from the show showed up at Kentucky Opry in Draffenville to tape a segment featuring top-nine finalist Paul Jolley.
As word spread throughout the community that Idol would be in town, his supporters began to pour into the venue for a chance to be on television when the show airs and to show support for the former Kentucky Opry performer.
Jolley made it into the top nine last week with his rendition of “Amazed” by Lone Star.
Clay and Barbie Campbell, owners of the Opry, said they met Jolley, 22, Palmersville, Tenn. at a talent show. Clay Campbell said he hired Jolley as a Star of Tomorrow from 2003 to 2008 and as a regular cast member in 2009.
“He was a typical kid coming into the talent competition, being young and inexperienced,” Clay Campbell said. “The Opry was a good stepping stone for him as it it gave him an opportunity to play in front of a live audience and with a live band.”
Clay Campbell said Jolley specializes in contemporary country music. Some of his favorite songs include, “Walking in Memphis,” “Tonight I want to Cry,” and “Won’t Let Go.” Rascal Flatts is one of his favorite groups.
“He was your typical American teen, a nice, Christian guy,” Clay Campbell said. “He briefly worked at Briggs and Stratton and didn’t like that much. Really your typical kid. He’s a member of the Church of Christ and a nice guy.”
Clay Campbell said Jolley is a dedicated vocalist, though has tried songwriting.
“He’s a good all-around player and easy to work with. He doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. He’s just a humble, down-to-earth kid.”
Barbie Campbell said she is surprised Jolley made it to the top 10 of American Idol. She added she is surprised how he has improved since he first came to the Opry and since he left their company. She credited hard work and dedication for his success.
“Not because he’s not good enough, but because it’s so competitive,” Barbie Campbell said. “He’s good enough to be a big star.”
Life on a nationally-televised talent show keeps contestants busy, but Jolley has found some time to call the Campbells. The couple planned to meet him in Las Vegas when they were there on a trip, but Jolley’s schedule forced him back to Los Angeles.
“I think he’s thrilled to death to be out there,” Barbie Campbell said. “He’s having a blast, but has a good attitude.”
Barbie Campbell said she believes Jolley has as good of a chance as any of this years contestants. While judges tend to be favoring women on the show, as a woman has not won in a few years, she believes voters will support Jolley.
“We’re voting for him and promoting him big-time,” Barbie Campbell said. “We’ve been showing his videos from YouTube and playing his songs. He’s getting good support from our audience.”