Last week, local "American Idol" contestant Reed Grimm was voted off the show, but not until after some emotional peaks and valleys were experienced by Grimm, himself, as well as friends, family and fans from coast to coast.
"I had some ups and downs," said Grimm, during a telephone interview Saturday, not quite 24 hours after stepping off the plane from Los Angeles. "There were lots of emotions (Thursday night) all the while you are trying to stay in the present." Grimm, like millions of viewers, thought for a moment he was in the top ten.
It unraveled on nationwide television for the L.A. audience, the crowd at Junior's Bar and Grill in River Falls and fans who grabbed their phones to text the good news. It was a split second of joy before reality set in that Grimm was being sent back to the "couch." The L.A. audience actually booed.
"I had some sort of feeling like it was the end," said Grimm, of how he felt the night before the results show. "I got Aaron (Marcellus) and Creighton (Fraker) in my group and when they didn't make it, I thought for half a second that I did but then..." As Grimm started for one of the final ten stools open, Ryan Seacrest directed him back to the group of male contestants sitting at the back of the stage.
Grimm continued to appear as he did throughout the entire competition - upbeat with no crying or angst. Whenever the camera panned the group he was cheering and clapping for his fellow contestants.
It wasn't over for Grimm as the judges selected six of the 15remaining contestants to sing one more time to earn one of the three wild-card spots. He was the last one to perform, and the end of the two hour show was just minutes away.
"They gave me the one last opportunity, and I wanted to give it my all," said Grimm. "With the other singers on there, they had some powerful voices, and I knew it." While Grimm's performance pleased the audience it wasn't enough for the judges.
"It (the evening) went by so fast. I wanted to have fun," said Grimm. "I'm okay that I didn't make it through. I'm thankful for the experience and will just embrace the whole journey. Overall, I am feeling positive. We all did farewell videos to our fans right after the show. That was very emotional."
Those videos are posted on the "American Idol" website.
"Everybody has this idea to perform for the masses," said Grimm. "We got a chance to do that, but that part of the journey has ended. I guess there are a lot of opportunities, but I'm not sure which direction I am going to go."
Both Grimm and his mother Colleen Raye were overwhelmed by the support.
"It has been nice to get back to reality," said Raye after returning from Los Angeles, where she was in the audience for the results show. "Reed did a great job. I am so proud of his performance and how he handled this whole thing. This might be a wonderful avenue to future things."
Raye has received over 1,000 messages regarding Reed, some from as far away as England.
"It does the soul good," said Raye. "It is like 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' receiving all these positive messages. Everyone comments that Reed has such a future in front of him."
Grimm himself was amazed at the support, the phone calls, emails and text messages.
"Everyone sent me so much love and positive messages," said Grimm. "Now that journey is over I'm going to take time to reflect on how many people were affected by it."
"It was amazing I got to perform for 20 million viewers. There is not much I can complain about," said Grimm. "I'm going to take the lessons learned and apply them. I'm still decompressing and processing the whole thing. It is still pretty emotional. Now I get to take a breath, be natural and hone in on my personal truth. I loved the process -- it was great."
In less than two weeks of having a Twitter account, which "American Idol" set up for all the semi-finalists, Grimm has over 10,000 followers.
"It is a new world," said Grimm. "I hope to take this exposure and grow from here. I want to produce something of good quality. Not just musically but energetically and intentionally good."
Caleb Hawley reflects
Last year, Hudson High School graduate Caleb Hawley was making his way through the "American Idol" process, having earned a ticket to Hollywood. Hawley was cut after his solo performance in Las Vegas. In the year since "American Idol," he has maintained a steady show schedule and in August will be one of the headliners at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Colorado.
He is a cousin by marriage to Reed Grimm. The two of them often tour together. He shared his thoughts about Grimm, whom he has known since they were both in high school.
"First time I met Reed I was on my first date with his cousin, who is now my wife (Samantha O'Keefe), to see him in an Ellsworth production of 'Bye Bye Birdie,'" said Hawley. "The dude oozed energy and entertainment right from the start, and I remember being amazed that he could dance, sing, and act so well...
"Then I got to go to the wild and crazy after-party at his grandparents' place where Reed started playing piano. I was so blown away, I was like 'Dude, you gotta play keys in my band!' He tried to tell me that drums were actually his main thing, but I told him I already had a drummer.
"Apparently I took my high school band pretty seriously back then...Anyway, a couple months later I got to see him play a drum solo at his mom's annual New Year's Eve show (at The Phipps Center for the Arts). I was so blown away that I immediately told the old drummer he was out of the band and Reed was in. We named our band Awkward Silence and played songs about girls that looked like apes and baking cookies. We also liked to play theme songs from TV shows like 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...' Reed is super talented and I knew he would go far as soon as I heard he had made it to Hollywood."
"If I know Reed, he's probably holding his chin up higher than anyone else who was cheering him on," said Hawley after Grimm was eliminated on Thursday. "The dude doesn't get down...he's the singly most positive person I've ever met and I strive to be like him every day in that way. He's real and genuine and himself, which is exactly what he displayed on Thursday night, so hats off to him. In reality (no pun intended), "American Idol" is mainly a casting call...sure, there are a lot of talented cats on that show, but that's not what it all comes down to, and I think everyone knows that by now."
Fr. Donaldson remembers Grimm
Father Tom Donaldson, retired from St. Francis Catholic Church in Ellsworth, remembers Reed Grimm as being gifted musically.
"My outstanding memory of Reed was when he came to the first grade," Donaldson said Thursday about the then-new student at St. Francis School. "He was an entertainer right from his toenails."
Donaldson said he'd rarely seen any child at that age wanting to get up in front of others like Grimm did. The first-grader would get up without hesitation and sing songs, mostly show tunes. He'd dance, too.
The youngster had just finished the experience of being out on the road with his parents and was then settling down, Donaldson said.
"He was an affable little kid who was delightful," the retired priest said, noting Grimm's younger sister, Sophie, also a St. Francis student, was the same way.
The present "American Idol" hopeful never got "cocky," Donaldson said, assessing him as outgoing and praising him for growing up to be a "very fine young man."
"He was kind of a show-off, but that just came out of his being," Donaldson said, aware of his involvement in several St. Francis productions including the annual Christmas program.
Grimm liked being with the other children, he recalled. He was also a good athlete and, most importantly, a "very happy boy," he said.
Although Donaldson said he doesn't always watch the Fox-TV show on which Grimm has been appearing, he's seen the former local student on "Idol" a couple of times. He remarked on the entertainer's high-energy, upbeat performances.
"The way you see him on TV...that's just him!" he said.
Time will tell how the "American Idol" experience will ultimately affect Reed Grimm. In the meantime he is happy to be home. Minutes after the results show a Facebook page was started to draft Grimm to host Saturday Night Live. We will keep you posted as to future developments.