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Nick Townsend

Tekamah native Nick Townsend's audition for "American Idol" was shown in the series premiere Sunday.

Tekamah native Nick Townsend gets his turn in front of the judges on the Sunday broadcast of “American Idol.” The program airs at 7 p.m. on ABC affiliate KLKN (Channel 8).

In the season premiere, viewers will embark on a nationwide journey starting with the show's famed auditions in Louisville, Kentucky; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; Los Angeles, New York and Denver, where aspiring singers will see if they have what it takes to earn a coveted golden ticket to Hollywood.

But that isn’t what's driving Townsend.

Townsend said when he decided to audition, it wasn’t just for the chance for people to hear him sing. He said he knows who he is and what he loves to do. The personal part comes in using the spotlight to help others cope with loss.

Townsend has lost two brothers to suicide in the last 18 months.

“It was more of a platform to tell my brothers’ story,” he said. “I did it to help people in mine or my parents’ shoes.

“The negatives (in life) are easy to find. I want people to be able to focus on the good things. They’re harder to dig for, but they’re worth it.”

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Townsend’s journey began in Coeur d’Alene last fall. Although he couldn’t reveal the outcome, the 2011 Tekamah-Herman High School graduate said just being part of the process has been a great experience. “It really moves fast, but it keeps you focused.”

Townsend is used to the whirlwind. He entered the Young Americans program following his high school graduation. He said touring the world while teaching kids about the benefits of music helped him focus on his personal dreams. Although music was a pleasant sideline in high school, he quickly learned how much he didn’t know.

“I got to go to a place where I could focus on what I like to do,” he said. “But to be able to teach other kids, I had to really know what I was talking about and I had to learn pretty quickly. I had to alter my mindset to really focus on music.”

He’s lived in Los Angeles since “graduating” from Young Americans. He’s been auditioning and recording music and doing freelance production work, “behind-the-scenes stuff,” he called it.

He said Young Americans “100 percent helped” prepare him for his audition. Not so much in repertoire, but with his confidence.

“When you perform all over the world, the nervousness shakes off,” he said. “When you’re on stage alone, you’re adapted to being on stage.”

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