Eliminated from American Idol on May 5, Jacob Lusk was understandably disappointed and second-guessed his song choices. “But everything happens for a reason,” says the former spa concierge from Los Angeles, who is now focusing on making the most of the career boost the show provided. “This whole thing has been a pinch-me moment. I still don’t think I’ve realized how big it really is,” acknowledges Lusk, who tried out for the show before but didn’t make the cut. “I don’t think I was ready then,” he admits.
Making the top ten and being suddenly thrust into the spotlight, he got to meet Halle Berry, Muhammad Ali and idol Chaka Khan—but also had to cope with big-time pressure. Looking back, he stands by his wardrobe selections, including an Andre 3000/Farnsworth Bentley-inspired ensemble, but would have replaced swan songs “Love Hurts” with “Ain’t No Way” or “Change Is Gonna Come” and “No Air” with “I Look to You” or “Forget You.” But he doesn’t blame anyone for his choices but himself. “It was ultimately my decision. I just didn’t make the right one.”
He’s not dwelling on that now. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be myself, not conform my choices or my beliefs or my song decisions to what I think people want to hear vs. what’s best for me as an artist,” says Lusk, who feels most comfortable in the Luther Vandross/Teddy Pendergrass/Marvin Gaye vain of R&B, but with heavy gospel and jazz influences. Already thinking about album tracks, he might cover his two favorite Idol performances, “God Bless the Child” or “A House Is Not a Home,” on his record, and would love to duet with Fantasia or Naima Adedapo, his BFF co-contestant. “She’s my girl for life. We’re going to be on each other’s albums. We already worked that out,” says Lusk.
He’s also looking forward to the 52-date Idol summer tour, a possible move to New York or Atlanta, and later on, acting in films and on Broadway. Meanwhile, he welcomes his role as an inspiration, especially for Black youth. “That’s why I’m so careful about what I sing, what I say and what I do, because young people are looking up to me,” he says. “We have to be careful with the power that we have.”
(Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images)