Light & Verity

An idol of our own

An Eli gets his shot on American Idol.

In 2002, Jason Ray ’06 made it through three rounds of early auditions. In 2017, Molly Sinnott ’15 auditioned in Annapolis. But to the best of our knowledge, the only Yalie who has made the cut and actually sung onscreen in American Idol is current senior Xavier Washington.

Xavier had plenty of practice. He took the 2019–20 year off to sing with the Whiffenpoofs. He performed in four shows at Yale. And he grew up singing. His family is musical, especially his grandmother, and at the age of seven, Xavier gave his first public performance: a duet with his cousin in church. Most of his musical background, he says, came from “growing up in a Black church, having that
gospel influence. That’s my whole voice.”

His second performance on Idol, ohn Mayer’s “Gravity,” earned him a standing ovation from the judges. His third was a duet with another contestant. Idol let him go after that, but Xavier consoled his fans on Facebook, writing, “This is just the beginning y’all, and I can’t wait to keep learning and growing.” He’s writing songs of his own now, too. “Nothing,” he says, “has given me the same happiness that music has given me.”

Click here to hear Xavier sing in a blues musical.

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