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American Idol contestant calls WV Home

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Photo courtesy of Christian Lopez.  The Lopez family, left to right, Christian, his father Jamie, younger brother Kennedy, mother Lesley and sister, Ana, show their support for Christian. Photo courtesy of Christian Lopez. The Lopez family, left to right, Christian, his father Jamie, younger brother Kennedy, mother Lesley and sister, Ana, show their support for Christian.

For The State Journal

MARTINSBURG — By the time Christian Lopez was 18 years old he had already been a two-season participant on American Idol.

Lopez began his music career when he was 5.

Born and raised in Martinsburg, Lopez said his mother started him on the piano when he was 5. He would later learn to sing and play guitar. 

"My dad and mom have great taste in good music," Lopez said in a recent interview with The State Journal. "Because of their love for music and getting me started early in my life, I had a massive desire to take my music further."

That desire would eventually lead him to participate in seasons 11 and 12 of American Idol. 

 He said his first year wasn't really as good as his second, mainly because he was ill with the flu.

The second year, he said, was much better. 

"I was second in the top 37 men out of 70 people to go to the Hollywood round," he said.

The audition took place in New York City where he competed with 10,000 other contestants.

Lopez sings and plays guitar, and he said his music style is inspired by Johnny Cash.

Performing before the panel of judges, Lopez said, "was nerve-wracking."

"Randy (Jackson) seemed to be the one that was harsh," Lopez said. "He was very hard on the competitors, but he was very honest. Thankfully he never really came down on me. 

"I was horrified that he might, but he didn't."

Lopez said it never hit him that there were millions of people watching his performance. He said he wasn't thinking of performing for the nation, just for the judges.

"I was lucky because all my judging was short and to the point," he said.

As a teenager attending Martinsburg High School, Lopez formed a band called "Joe Taxi."

The band covered more than 20,000 miles last year touring the countryside.

"We've been in and out of studios recording," he said. "Next week I will be in Nashville with my manger and the owner of a Newark, New Jersey, label.

"We are currently working on a label, but nothing has been set in concrete."

Lopez still lives with his family in Martinsburg. His father does the band's bookings and is his publicist. His mother takes care of the finances.

"My little brother is 13 and taking lessons to play the drums," he said. "My sister is 20 and is a great photographer.

"Everyone in our house has a great taste in music."

Christian attended Shepherd University in Shepherdstown for one semester but decided to take some time off to pursue his music career.

"When I enrolled in college, I had no idea what I wanted to study," he said. "The only thing I ever wanted to do is music."

He said it was difficult going to school, creating, writing and recording music at the same time.

"I was very lucky to have my parents supporting me all the way," Lopez said. "They are on board 100 percent."

Lopez believes that everything in his life is happening for a reason.

"One thing I keep reminding myself is to grow and be as humble as I possibly can while growing," Lopez said.

His favorite artists are The Avett Brothers, and he likes all of their music.

Joe Taxi is currently planning its summer schedule. Although nothing is firmed up right now, Lopez said they will be up and down West Virginia's interstates as often as possible, and he is targeting Charleston and Morgantown.

"I love West Virginia with all my heart," Lopez said.

He is currently without a girlfriend and said, "I'm too busy for that. I have to focus 100 percent on my music."

You can find more information about Lopez on Facebook at Christian Lopez or Joe Taxi.