Reality Rocks - Archive

What’s Written On Crystal Bowersox’s Guitar?

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Coffeehouse belter Crystal Bowersox is fast becoming one of the top season 9 American Idol frontrunners, leading the pack in a downright Lilith Fairly season packed with earthy guitar grrrls. Other standout granola-girl contenders include Didi Benami, Lilly Scott, Haeley Vaughn, and Janell Wheeler, but Crystal's more rockish edge--think of her as the missing link between season 7's Amanda Overmyer and Brooke White, with a gritty, growly, Joplinesque voice mixed with an unpretentious throwback acoustic vibe--has especially made her one to watch.

The 23-year-old former farmgirl and single mom with the headful of dreads, chinful of facial piercings, and mouthful of sandpaper-and-velvet has been strumming and singing since the age of 10, and she moved from smalltown Ohio to Chicago due to the Windy City's rich blues history. Crystal cites trailblazing blues women like Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Bonnie Raitt, and Sista Otis as her own musical idols, but her most notable influence might be Melissa Etheridge--as evidenced by the mysterious Melissa autograph on Crystal's beloved acoustic guitar:

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"That's a real indie girl, right there," raved Idol judge Randy Jackson on Tuesday night, after watching Crystal perform an unplugged version of Sheryl Crow's "If It Makes You Happy," which made all four judges happy indeed. In short, Crystal Bowersox rocks. Or soft-rocks.

So, will Crystal be the first guitar girl to win American Idol, moving the show even further away from straight-up pop and in turn sort of becoming the female Kris Allen (a "Kris-tal Allen," so to speak)? We shall see...but I'm personally already looking forward to seeing her perform a duet with Melissa Etheridge at this season's American Idol finale...and it might not be long before fans are asking Crystal to autograph THEIR guitars.

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