WOOSTER — Josh Krajcik’s days of performing in local coffee shops and pubs is on hold for a while. Surely they won’t mind stepping aside for the millions of people quickly becoming dedicated fans of the longtime musician.
Krajcik, a 1999 graduate of Triway High School, is winning over fans of the new singing talent show “The X Factor.” Creator Simon Cowell, also one of four judges, said Krajcik’s Sept. 28 audition of Etta James’ “At Last” “blew me away.”
“What I love about you Josh is that you are honest,” Cowell said after the audition.
His performance on You Tube is up to more than 1,730,000 views.
And honest he is. Although he always has loved the song “At Last,” Krajcik admits he had sung it only a couple of times before wowing all four judges — Cowell, Paula Abdul, L.A. Reid and Cheryl Cole (now replaced by Nicole Scherzinger).
“I wanted to be spontaneous with it,” Krajcik said. “I wanted to go up there and let the song take over. I had never heard a guy sing it before and I thought it would be kind of neat.”
Since he became a contestant on “The X Factor,” Krajcik, as well as his family, has not been allowed to speak to the media. On Friday, though, he was able to give The Daily Record an update of how his life has changed this past month, and what the support from his hometown means to him.
“This competition is an opportunity for me to showcase what it is that I do, and there is no other opportunity in the world greater than this to do that,” Krajcik said. “What’s happened so far has been amazing — how many people are stopping me to just say how great I am doing is just so wonderful. I’m not even sure if it’s sunk in yet.”
Anyone who has watched Krajcik’s audition saw his No. 1 fan watching from backstage — his mom, Lisa Pim. She drove him the seven hours to the tryout in Chicago and was cheering for him as he sang his heart out in front of the judges.
“My girlfriend and I are pretty broke,” Krajcik admits. “I wasn’t sure my truck would make it there anyway, so I didn’t really have a plan. My mom was thrilled to drive me up (to Chicago). Her support alone is what made this happen. She’s always been a huge fan.”
Although his dad, Ron Krajcik, wasn’t front and center on the show like his mom, Josh Krajcik said his dad is just as supportive, not to mention a great guitar player.
“He’s very musical so I must have gotten some of my talents from him,” Krajcik said.
With a carefree sense of style, including his shoulder-length, curly hair and basic T-shirt and jeans, Krajcik isn’t too concerned about looks when it comes to his on-air television time.
“With me, what you see is what you get,” he said. “I’ve always kinda been a laid-back, dirty-shirt kind of guy. The only thing I’ve really thought about in this whole thing is to just be myself.”
The support for Krajcik continues to grow daily, especially in his hometown. It seems everyone in Wayne County is coming up with new ways to cheer on their No. 1 contestant. Countless Websites have been made and dedicated to him, as well as new Facebook and Twitter fan pages going up each day.
“I’ve traveled some in my life, but to be honest, I like Ohio more than any place I’ve been,” Krajcik said. “I miss playing in Wooster and I miss those familiar faces. There’s nothing like having your hometown root for you in something like this. It’s really just awesome.”
Two local businesses are selling T-shirts in support of Krajcik, each with a picture of him on the front. Carmichael Sports in Orrville has one style available and Expert T’s in Wooster has another. Each are $12; a portion of sales from each of the shirts sold from Expert T’s will go to Triway High School’s Music Department.
On Oct. 25, “The X Factor” will reveal the final 16 contestants from the current 32. As his fans await the announcement of whether or not Krajcik will go on to the live shows that begin Nov. 2, the Olde Jaol will hold a watch party on the 25th. Beginning around 7 p.m., fans of Krajcik are invited to stop into the tavern to watch the two-hour show, beginning at 8 p.m., on a 20-foot screen, said Old Jaol employee Diane DeVault, who is helping to coordinate the event.
“Josh used to play here when he was in town and he always would pack the house,” DeVault said. “Knowing his mom and dad are local and that he has a lot of friends and family here, we just wanted to do something special for him. He’s just awesome.”
If the World Series interrupts “The X Factor,” which already has happened, DeVault said the Olde Jaol will hold the party on whatever date the show is rescheduled to air.
Krajcik said he is thankful for everyone who continues to show their support and he “loves everyone who is rooting for me.”
“The music industry is hard,” he said. “It takes resources and a good amount of luck. I might not be the greatest marketer in the world so maybe I wasn’t supposed to do this until now. … I hope people can see from me that you should never give up on your dreams.”
The next episode of “The X Factor” featuring Krajcik will air tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox. Once the final 16 are chosen, voting will be up to the fans.
Living editor Lydia Gehring can be reached at 330-287-1655 or e-mail email@example.com.