'America Idol' Winner Chayce Beckham Releases Debut Album That Comes From His Heart and Soul

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Chayce Beckham

Chayce Beckham is the first American Idol winner who had a song reach No. 1 on country radio since the singing competition began airing on ABC, and he did it with “23,” a song he wrote himself and that helped him win Idol.

Today, the platinum hit “23” will be released on Chayce’s first-ever album, titled, Bad for Me, a 13-track collection of soul-searching songs that touch on themes like substance abuse, guilt and romantic remorse, and the inner struggle of a man wishing he was more.

“I think, for me, it feels right to write that stuff,” Chayce told Parade. “It’s maybe easier for me to write and it’s easier for me to just talk about things that I’ve gone through or relate to. I want it to come across as genuine to the people who listen to it.”

And while “23” may be Chayce’s big hit, he didn’t make it the title of the album. Rather, he chose Bad for Me because it encompasses the subject matter of all of the songs on the album which, as mentioned above, deals with a variety of topics.

“It was a song on there that I felt was almost like the home base for a lot of those songs and was a good place for us to start,” he says. “It was a song that was an outside cut that when I heard it, I decided that it was something I wanted to record almost immediately. I think it came out really cool on the record and, yeah, I think it just really does a good job of pulling everything together.”

Chayce, who grew up in Apple Valley, Calif., a desert area that was once home to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, is home to a lot of hard-working, blue-collar people, some of who are cowboys. It was there that Chayce came by his love for country music, and for Chayce, it’s important to stay true to his roots, which he does on Bad for Me.

Related: American Idol Winner Chayce Beckham on His New Single and Upcoming Tour with Luke Bryan

“Every song on the album has a particular tie to me and my story,” he says. ‘So, I think that’s what makes it something that the audience can relate to. We’re all a lot more alike than we like to admit.”

During our chat, the 2024 CMT Music Awards nominee also spoke about what life after winning American Idol has been like. Below is what he told Parade.

Ryan Seacrest, Katy Perry, Chayce Beckham, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan
Ryan Seacrest, Katy Perry, Chayce Beckham, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan

It’s been three years since you won American Idol. How would you describe your life now?

It’s definitely a lot different. I feel like American Idol gave me a really good understanding of what I was getting myself into for the better part of the rest of my life. It’s a very busy schedule when you’re on Idol and a lot of hurry up and wait. There’s a lot of stuff to do every day, a lot of media and that kind of stuff. I feel like it got me ready for what I’ll be doing for the next 15 years, touring, being on the road, playing shows, singing a lot, writing music and doing the whole media and the business side of everything—just really giving me a good understanding of how this career works before I got too far into it. I think that it’s been an awesome journey and it’s exciting to finally be at this point in my career and seeing some of this stuff happen.

Even as Idol prepared you for this new life, there have to have been some surprises. What did you not know before you were actually in it that you were surprised to learn?

I think I was surprised to learn how much it costs to do this type of a job and just how quickly you go through the money that you make continuing the process. I think that that was something that I was a little amazed by as you realize the cost of having a band and traveling and having a team and everybody who helps you do all these things. And just how much has to go into it. But I’m not stranger to anything that’s a lot of hard work or a lot of teamwork basically. Yeah, the business side of it was something that I had to educate myself on throughout the process.

But you’re doing what you love, and so that means it’s not really a job, right?

Well, yeah, that’s the thing. I’ve been so fortunate and blessed to be able to do this as a career. Even if you just break even, which a lot of the times you do, it’s just awesome to get the opportunity to go do these things. You get to make music and put music out into the world. It’s a really special experience anytime that we get to be on a stage.

Even though you’re the singer on the album there’s a lot of people behind the scenes—your producer, the musicians, the engineer, etc. What goes into getting it just right? How do you find the right people for you to collaborate with?

I listen to a lot of records and other people’s music and just try to pull together a picture of all the things that I really loved. Bart Butler produced this record and he’s done a lot of stuff that I really like and that I really admire. When we met each other and we started talking about country music and what we love in country music, we both had a lot of the same opinions and a lot of the same passions for the types of country music that we both are into. We both had a clear picture of what we wanted to do on this record, how we wanted it to come across and how we wanted to make it.

I feel like I had the creative freedom to make this thing how I wanted to. I think that we made something that people who love country music can love and it’s something that we can be proud of. It was awesome finding the right people, down to the band and the players and everybody who was in the studio with us singing the songs. I think everybody who was there was the exact right person for the job.

Related: American Idol Winner Chayce Beckham on His Growing Country Music Career: 'I’m Just a Little Fish in a Big Pond Working My Way Up'

You actually have two tours coming up, the Bad For Me tour, but also you’re going to be opening up for Luke Bryan for the Mind of a Country Boy tour. Is there less pressure to work with Luke? And how do you juggle the two?

It’s so interesting because when I first encountered Luke Bryan, he was someone that I was just so terrified to be around. I didn’t want to mess up while I was singing in front of him. Getting to know him outside of the show and in real life, he’s been such a great supporter and an advocate of mine. But, also, he’s done a great job of making me feel comfortable and he’s helped me surround myself with good people. It’s awesome to get the chance to be on his tour. We toured with him last year and had a lot of fun, so I think it’s going to be a good one this year. We always have a good time.

Not all songs make country radio, but 23, the song that you won American Idol with and the first original song to win the competition, it’s now on country radio and it hit No. 1. What does it feel like?

It’s really awesome. There are some people from Idol who have really done an amazing job of representing country music. It’s awesome to get my name up there with people like Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery and Kelly Clarkson. It’s awesome to get your name anywhere near those incredible artists. Yeah, it just feels good, and I think it’s awesome.

I love the people, the producers and everybody at American Idol. Everybody on the show has shown me so much support and so much love throughout my career from beginning to where we are now. I just really love what it represents and what it stands for. I think that that’s an awesome notch in their belt and something that they get to be proud of, too. They’re putting out artists and people who really want to have long-lasting careers in country music.

Taste of Country wrote, “Chayce Beckham is the real deal.” What does that mean to you to be the real deal?

I don’t know. I just try to write and sing songs and have a good time doing it. And sing about stuff that’s true to me. I think that with the music, I try to make it honest and I try to be honest about who I am. I feel like the record definitely does that. Yeah, who I try to be as a person is just real and honest. I feel like the music came out in a way that hopefully goes along with that.

Your hometown of Apple Valley is a place that you can drive past on the way to Las Vegas. But is it country?

I don’t know if you’d call it country. It’s desert. But there’s a lot of stuff out there that it’s not the typical California town to grow up in that I think a lot of people think of. The high school there had agriculture, they had stables and cows and chickens and stuff. My sisters were into agriculture and all my sisters rode horses in the desert. All that stuff was very common out there. There’s a lot of cowboys in California, believe it or not. There’s a lot of cowgirls, too. One of my best friends growing up in high school was a rodeo cowboy. The most real deal that you can get was that guy.

Your mom was very supportive of you through all of your problems. What does your success now mean to her and what have you been able to do for her to repay that?

I think that through all this, it’s just been an incredible story of trial and tribulation and learning from your mistakes. But I think the most important thing was having people around you who believe in you and care about you. She’s been that one, that consistent pillar in my life that’s always been there. Yeah, she’s an incredible person and I’m so grateful that that’s who I got as my mom. I think she’s been able to be really proud of me, which means more than anything, that I’m not in jail somewhere or in trouble or headed down a wrong path. I was able to do some things that I think my whole family’s really proud of what we’ve been able to get done. That means a lot.

Might we see you back on Idol this season? You have a new album to promote.

I don’t know, maybe, we’ll see. I’m not sure. I’ve got to give them a call, see if they’ll have me.

Bad for Me, which also includes Chayce's solo writes “Mama,” which he performed on American Idol, and the barroom rocker “Drink You Off My Mind,” is available now.

Next: American Idol Winners: Where Are They Now?