Fargo's other 'Idol' hopeful still singing

Unless you avoid the media like it's burning lava, it was pretty hard not to notice Nick Fink's recent run on "American Idol," since it was reported all over the Fargo media.

Caleb Hawley
Caleb Hawley is a Fargo native who's competing on "American Idol." Special to The Forum

Unless you avoid the media like it's burning lava, it was pretty hard not to notice Nick Fink's recent run on "American Idol," since it was reported all over the Fargo media.

But as the 2009 Fargo South graduate had his face in The Forum and was broadcast on local radio as Fargo's potential "Idol," Deb Jenkins was wondering one thing: What about Caleb Hawley?

Jenkins, the local musician and cook, had good reason to wonder. While much of the media - myself included - was focused on Fink, the fact that Hawley, another former Fargoan, was gaining favor with the "Idol" judges had escaped us.

Fortunately some tipsters pointed out the background on Hawley, who just made it through this week's group sessions on "Idol." And, yes, the New York City musician does have a hearty Fargo connection.

"I basically grew up there, for the most part," Hawley said via phone Thursday.


Turns out Hawley spent a decent chunk of his life in Fargo, living here from 1991-99.

He had just completed eighth grade at Ben Franklin middle school when his family moved to Hudson, Wis.

And though advancing through "Idol" could elevate him closer to the music culture elite, it wasn't always that way.

"I remember getting kicked out of band in Ben Franklin," Hawley says. "The teachers had their issues with me when I was growing up."

Fortunately for Hawley - and "Idol" judge Steven Tyler, who might be his biggest fan - there were others to encourage his musical passion. Among them was Jenkins, who gave Hawley his first gig at her former restaurant, the Full Circle Café.

At the time, Hawley's older brother had a band called Minus Linus with Hawley on bongos. After a gig at the Full Circle, Hawley told Jenkins he played his own music and wanted a gig. And, at the time, his music wasn't the selling point.

"As a person, he's just so engaging," Jenkins says. "He was just somebody that I thought I really wanted to know."

She's not alone. During Hawley's "Idol" audition in New Jersey, judge Jennifer Lopez gave him the "I'm digging you" eyes. And Tyler started singing along during Hawley's audition.


From there, TMZ featured Hawley - and his dog, Fargo - on the celebrity news organization's TV show. And when I called to talk with Hawley, he had to delay the interview because he was about to do a "big" radio interview.

"It's been crazy," he says. "It's been a really fun experience trying to keep up with it."

And it sounds like his Fargo friends will get a chance to catch up with Hawley. He's been working with Jenkins to set up another Fargo concert, probably in late July.

They were shooting for a date in April, but Hawley says that won't work.

So does that mean he'll be advancing to the live rounds of "Idol"?

"I'm not really allowed to say," Hawley says.

Guess we'll have to watch and find out.

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