CAMERON, TEXAS — You've heard the name here first... Cecil Ray Baker!
He's our Central Texas native, wowing the legendary judges during American Idol's 19th season, as he continues to compete to be this season's winner.
It's been a few weeks since 25 News checked in with the Cameron native, but that's not to say his time on the show ended. Cecil's still on his way, going as far as the show will allow him. The last time we caught up with him, in the show, he had just received his golden ticket and was on his way to impress judges during the competition's highly anticipated 'Hollywood Week'.
One could say, Sunday's performance during American Idol's 'Genre Challenge' was a little scary, for both the viewer and the Cameron native. There was a moment early on where Baker appeared to have missed his start, or was simply letting the jitters get the best of him, but Katy Perry, one of the judges, asked him to try again, assuring she wanted him to have a 'fair chance' during the round... so that he did.
Baker didn't let the stage fright get the best of him, which proved to be the difference maker, and he was allowed to move up within the competition.
"It was my second time being in front of the judges and the first time really performing on the Dolby stage... It's a very big stage and very important stage. I was just nervous, honestly," Baker said.
Using thoughts of his family, especially his infant daughter, Emilia, to help calm his nerves, Baker says, trying to explain the feeling in that exact moment is tough.
"Going on stage.. I couldn't do anything, but think about my family and my daughter... my sweet baby girl. It really eased my nerves a lot going on stage, but as soon as I got on stage, I completely forgot, I was immediately so nervous again," Baker added.
If you were tuned in on Sunday, the episode showed Baker's performance within the genre challenge and then on Monday, which was un-aired, Baker advanced throughout the duet competition. Baker says, singing with someone else was something he had never really done before.
"I've never really done a duet. I've sang with my brother, acapella, but never really an actual duet with someone. For the first time, doing a duet with someone, with Migon.. It was the greatest vocal performance that I have probably ever had," Baker added.
Watching it back, Baker says he's bummed that his stellar performance didn't get aired, but recalls the anticipation in time waiting for his name to be called during the last time he was solo.
"I just remember zoning out for the first time when I was standing in line on stage, my first round, my genre challenge. I remember standing there and zoning out. I found myself lost in reality that I was on American Idol, on stage... I used to watch this unfold before my eyes and now it was in the moment," Baker said.
Baker says even though he's done it a time or two before, performing doesn't necessarily get any easier, but he is certainly glad when he hears judges like Luke Bryan, say his name and he hopes we all stay tuned to see how far he goes.
"Sunday and Monday night you will see the showstopper round. Tune in Monday night to catch me and see if I advance into the Top 24," Baker added.
Baker says it's a 'humbling', yet 'intimidating' feeling, but music is his passion, and singing is a feeling unlike any other.
"Honestly, I can't do anything, but feel blessed and so fortunate to be advancing on the show. My experience has been a long shot for. Coming from where I come from, such a small town, not many big dreams make it out and not many people pursue their dreams, especially the big dreams. I can't do anything but feel blessed, to be able to advance. It's a dream come true for me... not only for me, but for my family. It's amazing to say that I am advancing on American Idol. Trying to plant my feet and make a name for sure." Baker said.
Baker says his friends and family were 'naturally shocked', as they saw him perform on one of the biggest stages in the industry.
"... but I know there were some people that knew I was down for something like this. I have always felt like I was apart of something greater, something bigger in life. I just never really knew exactly what that was. Music has always been my passion." Baker said. "It's slowly coming together for me... slowly falling into place and I can't do nothing, but feel blessed." he added.
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