We're rooting for Qaasim Middleton to be America's next "Idol," and you should, too.
The Brooklynite is the only NYC native currently competing on the 14th season of FOX's "American Idol," where he's so far among the top 24 contenders.
We caught up with Middleton, 20, in advance of this Wednesday's episode to learn more about how Brooklyn influences his music and what he hopes to accomplish on the show.
Tell me about your "Idol" journey so far.
It's been a great experience. I'm excited. We're going up full gear now. I'm excited for the upcoming shows because you'll get to see a bit more of my expressiveness on stage. I'm going to work the stage a little bit. I'm going to wear some designs by my uncle.
So you get to wear what you want?
Yep, I get to wear what I want. My uncle Frank actually designs my stage outfits.
How are the judges?
I've been getting really good feedback from them to absorb.
You grew up in Brooklyn. How has Brooklyn influenced you as a musician?
New York City is one of the most diverse cities I've ever seen. Brooklyn is the melting pot of the melting pot. Brooklyn has all that diversity within itself. I've been blessed that it's allowed me to have a diverse taste in music, and allow me truth of expression. I like having my own Brooklyn flair. You don't see too many people like me.
Do you think you'll come back to New York or stay in Los Angeles?
It depends on my career. I don't have my mind set on one place or another. I do love L.A., but Brooklyn is home. It's the best of both worlds.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Stevie Wonder is one of my biggest influences. While my mom was pregnant with me, she would play Wonder's "Songs In The Key Of Life." She thinks that I gained his musical ear spiritually. I started writing music when I was 11, and when I was 16, people actually thought one of my songs was Wonder's! I'm really blessed to get that comparison. James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince are also some other major influences.
When was the last time you were in New York?
They fly us back and forth, but my family is here with me, so that's cool. I'm not homesick because of that. And home is where the heart is. My family is my heart, and they're with me, so that's what it's about.