Tony Cummings spoke to the singer, songwriter from Huntsville, Alabama, BO BICE
If you're a regular listener to Cross Rhythms radio you'll no doubt have enjoyed the bluesy rock of "Chasin' Darkness" by Bo Bice. And if you have a long memory you may remember when Bo Bice was a hugely popular entrant in the American Idol TV talent contest. It was the fourth season of American Idol which catapulted Bo into the big time and although he didn't win (that honour went to Carrie Underwood) the series did land him a gold-selling single with "Inside Your Heaven" and a hit album with RCA Records 'The Real Thing' which in December 2005 made number four on the US pop charts. Awhile back he spoke to me about his intriguing life in music.
Tony: It's great to be talking to you.
Bo: It's a pleasure to talk to you from the US. The UK is a place I love that I called home for five years. My high school years were spent at High Wycombe air force base. I lived in Gerrards Cross and we loved it there. You have such a beautiful country. I hope to come back and visit.
Tony: Are you fed up with talking about American Idol?
Bo: I never get tired of talking about American Idol. Let's put it in football terms. When a person has played for a certain team for many years, they don't get tired of talking about their heritage with that team. When a person has been traded from team to team to team, they might not be as proud. For me, I've always been proud of the American Idol journey. I was on season four, with Carrie Underwood coming first, me coming second. I was proud to be at the finale of the brand I was part of, to help close that down after 15 years. No, sir, I wouldn't say that I get tired of talking about the brand. There are legal things that sometimes come into play - especially now that a different company owns the brand - to where sometimes promoters and buyers think they can throw that logo at you. There are legalities against me doing things like that. I've come to respect that. Sometimes the people in the business that don't understand that, it can pose a problem. But other than that, it doesn't bother me at all talking about it.
Tony: You've been quiet in recent times. Did you go through a period of semi-retirement?
Bo: I don't think you ever really retire from things. I've kept doing what I love. I had three albums out before my first project after American Idol. Nobody knew about them. My first album after American Idol was a gold record and had some accolades. I enjoyed that. The other albums after that I changed to a different era. Now I've got a new release. You've heard of the band The Ides of March? They came out with a song called "Vehicle" that I actually got my first gold record with. There's several different artists on their 55th anniversary project that just came out August of 2019 - Mark Farner, Joe Bonamassa, Mindi Abair, myself. I have a single on there called "Love Or Something Like It" that I wrote with Jim Peterik. That's something current. Semi-retirement for me has also been my wife and four children. Family became more of a priority. The road became less of a priority. I was on the road with Blood, Sweat & Tears for five years. When they decided to go a separate way I decided, instead of just cranking up the old Bo Bice tractor again, to find more family time and also enjoy the projects I've been blessed to work on.
Tony: You've been a Christian quite a while, haven't you?
Bo: Yes, sir. My whole life I've known Christ. I was raised in church. That doesn't mean I've always walked the walk. When I was flying around, doing things I didn't need to be doing, I was still going to church. My last release as an artist was called 'New Soul Revival', and it is in a Southern gospel kind of direction. It's got the songs "People Get Ready", "I've Got The Key To The Kingdom". The single was called "Glory Hallelujah", and it's a song that I wrote. My friend William Lee Golden, from the Oakridge Boys, was nice enough to sing on that with me and do a duet. If you listen to my secular music, "Sinner In A Sin", you see it's my faith that's kept me. I have always worn my relationship with Jesus Christ. I'm very, very proud to be a Christian, and I think it shows in a lot of my music, ever since my first record. "Valley Of Angels" was very Christ-orientated. I fought to get "Valley Of Angels" on that album. Nobody wanted it on there. Every album had something - at least two or three, where you listen to it, you know where I stand. Jesus Christ is my Lord and saviour.
Tony: You're well known in the secular music world, but you're not well known in Christian music. The Church creates divisions that aren't very helpful.
Bo: When I put out my first album, it was pop. But my second album, I said, 'Listen, this is the album I really wanted to make.' I took it to country and they said, 'No, that's not country enough.' And rock said, 'No, it's not rock. It's a little too country.' I made my third album more country-orientated, and country took it but they said, 'It's still too rock.' When I did my fourth album, I threw some contemporary songs on, and they said, 'This is not contemporary.' They've never really been accepting of me as an artist. I'm not complaining about that. It is what it is. But in every genre there is an exact formula, and if you don't want to follow that formula you're not going to get to play the game. Sometimes it's better to watch the game from the sidelines, and then whenever it's your turn to jump in, it's best to be the kicker. We're talking American football now! You go in and you win the game with one kick. But pretending to be a rock star stopped about two years after my first son was born, around the time my second son was born. That's when real life took over. Worrying about what label I fit under, who's going to sell me, what direction do I take now? I'm through with that.
Tony: Can you tell me about "Chasin' Darkness"?
Bo: "Chasin' Darkness" is talking about the spiritual journey we're all on. It goes: "I live my life between the wrong and the right/Follow my weakness right into the light/Striking a match, shadows dance across the floor/I'm chasing darkness out the door." Striking that match is, to me, the light of Christ, and when that light's in your heart you chase the darkness out.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.