Photo by Michael Becker / Fox
For some people, American Idol represents a bright spot in the bleak midwinter, an opportunity for young musical dreamers to get a chance at fame. The rest of you can move along, thanks.
Now we can get down to business: to Rayvon Owen, Richmond’s greatest hope for Idol glory since 2006’s third-place contestant, Elliott Yamin.
A 2009 graduate of Henrico High School’s Center for the Arts, 23-year-old Owen had made it to the final 11 as of press time, having earned praise from the Idol judges (J.Lo, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban this season) and the public, which ultimately determines the winner. From here, the pressure just goes up, but Owen has maintained a cool exterior while flexing his falsetto muscle.
“I think that when we try to impress the judges or the other contestants, that’s when we trip up,” he said in a recent phone interview with Richmond magazine. “If you just stay in your own lane [and] stay true to who you are, I think you shine more.”
Stephanie Poxon, director of the Center for the Arts, has fond memories of Owen, who focused on musical theater during his four years at the Henrico County magnet school. In her music theory class, she recalls her students being “all girls — and Rayvon,” who was popular with everyone for his positivity and adventurous spirit.
During his senior year, he won the role of Tony in West Side Story, and he has sung in school choirs and outside groups, including the Richmond Boys Choir. Owen also was homecoming king, Poxon says, and since graduating, he has pursued a musical career.
These days, the Henrico school is plastered with signs reminding students to “vote for Rayvon” on American Idol. Poxon sometimes exchanges text messages with her former student, who is enjoying his time on the show, although there is a lot of hurry-up-and-wait time between episodes.
“He is a magnet,” she says. “I just love him to pieces.”
Whatever the eventual outcome, for Owen’s charisma and sweet, sweet vocals, as well as his coolness under pressure on a national stage, we dub him Richmonder of the Month.