When Jason Castro tried out for “American Idol,” it raised his number of public singing appearances from a handful to a-handful-plus-one.
The soft-spoken 20-year-old Texan with long dreadlocks is padding his singing resume now. As one of 11 contestants still in the running for the “Idol” title, Castro is winning fans with his laid-back style and musical talent.
Part of a close-knit musical family, Castro has played drums since he was young. While attending Texas A&M, the construction science major decided to try playing the guitar and singing as well.
His aunt, Jennefer Brawley, said her nephew first sang at a family jam session only a couple of years ago. Her reaction was instant: “Oh, Jason. Man, you can sing, too.”
Former bandmate Micah Kinard said he was floored when he heard Castro sing on “Idol.”
“He got so good so fast, it was ridiculous,” Kinard said.
“I think he’s doing awesome,” said Kinard, 22. “He’s got his own style and he’s sticking with it, and I think that’s what’s winning over the judges. He’s got down solid the whole mellow, chill, heartfelt aspect.”
While still in high school, Castro played drums in the Dallas-area band Keeping Lions, which has since broken up. Kinard, who played bass in the band, said while his friend may have more experience drumming in the background, he seems to be enjoying the spotlight.
“He loves it and he’s doing good,” said Kinard, who is now lead singer in the Fort Worth-based group Oh, Sleeper.
“Idol” isn’t Castro’s first brush with reality-show fame. He has also appeared on the MTV show “Cheyenne,” which followed fellow North Texan Cheyenne Kimball as she pursued her singing career.
But those who know him say he’s remained humble, and a bit shy.
“Jason’s just easygoing,” Brawley said.
Art teacher Lynn Wilkinson said that Castro, who graduated from Rowlett High School in 2005, was a good student who had a talent for drawing. She also noticed that he had “an inward confidence in himself.”
And while she knew he played drums in a band, she didn’t know how talented he was.
“He didn’t brag about himself,” she said. “It’s just something that he did. He’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m in a band.”’
The son of Colombian immigrants, Castro has a younger brother and sister. He grew up in Rowlett, but his family recently moved to nearby Rockwall. In an “Idol” interview, Castro talked about occasionally working with his father, who designs and builds swimming pools.
Brawley said that when their musically inclined family gathers, musical instruments soon come out.
Wes Hamilton, a teaching pastor at Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, said Castro is a popular singer when he performs at the end of services.
“Jason’s just an amazing Christian kid,” Brawley said.
At Rowlett High School, excitement is building.
“I think they must know him through other kids,” said Tiffany Karns, a psychology and sociology teacher at Rowlett High School. “The students are really excited and there are signs all over the building.”
At a recent watch party, many sported black T-shirts featuring “Vote for Jason Castro” in yellow and a drawing of him, head bent over a guitar.
No matter what happens on the “Idol,” Kinard said Castro has everything it takes to make it big.
“He’s going to do something great,” Kinard said.