Santa Barbara local earns a place on “American Idol”

Views 28 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 3 - 27 - 2019 | By: Maya Rouillard


Since winning Santa Barbara’s Teen Star singing competition in 2016, Jackson Gillies’ life has been a whirlwind. He’s performed with Kenny Loggins and David Foster and shared the stage with Santa Barbara’s own Katy Perry at the One 805 Kick Ash Bash, which raised money for first responders and survivors of the Thomas Fire and the Montecito Mudslide. Since his start in Santa Barbara, Gillies has overcome some big obstacles.
Gillies is now stepping into the national spotlight as he auditions for “American Idol,” which Gillies believes experiences like this help him find his own voice. No matter what happens on “American Idol,” Gillies says he’s taking advantage of every opportunity that comes his way.
Life has not been easy for Gillies, as he suffers from a chronic skin disorder called Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Type1 Diabetes. Gillies has become a bit of a celebrity in raising awareness about the disease; his TEDxSantaBarbara talk has gained more than 75,000 views.
Gillies built a name for himself around town by playing and organizing shows, including the “Something That Matters” concert to bring awareness to his diagnosis. Eventually, he said he felt ready to audition for “American Idol”: an experience he will never forget. “It was incredible to see the best of the best of our generation’s musicians,” he commented, “I’m so grateful for the experience.” Although he felt nervous to perform on the show, Gillies felt welcome and accepted amongst his fellow contestants.
He has also recently released a debut single, “Miss Me Too,” that is starting to gain popularity. He collaborated with Producer Jesse Siebenberg, who has worked with musicians like Lady Gaga and Billy Preston, to deliver this song.
He says he enjoys the fame and the new fan base the debut has brought.
This last Friday, the Santa Barbara community gathered at the Red Piano for a fundraiser hosted by Jackson Gillies. Every dollar raised from ticket sales went to the Red Piano Music Scholarship, which will fund a music scholarship to help support a local student pursuing their dreams in music.
“As a musician myself, I don’t think money should be something that should hold you back from doing something you love and that you wanna do, so it’s very close to my heart. This is my first time playing the Red Piano, really officially playing it. It’s one of my first real headline gigs, and especially after “American Idol,” it’s really special,” said Gillies.
Organizers say last year’s success of the Phil Womble Sports Scholarship paved the way for the event with the help of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara and Gillies jumped at the chance to get involved.
As Gillies is an up and coming star in Santa Barbara, he could just be the next “American Idol.”


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