‘American Idol’ Star Crystal Bowersox Was Nearly Homeless After the Show Told Her She Couldn’t Perform Gigs

by Taylor Cunningham

Season nine’s American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox claims that the producers forbade her from performing gigs while competing on the series. And without her main source of income, she was left nearly homeless.

Once the judges handed her a golden ticket, they said she could only showcase her talents while on the series. That meant that she had to take a break from her paying music career from the summer of 2009 until January 2010. During that time, Bowersox was a single mother with a newborn. And her voice was her only way of making ends meet.

As she told Insider, American Idol took the demand very seriously. Before the producers allowed to star in the show, she and her entire family had to sign restrictive “contracts” and “nondiscloure agreements” that not only banned her from performing but also stopped everyone close to her from telling people that she made it through auditions.

Being only 24 and new to performing, she “had zero experience in the music industry or in the legal legalities of it.” So it was stressful and frustrating to not understand her options. However, after going too long without an income, she had to take a gamble and break her contract because it was the only way to feed her son.

Crystal Bowersox “went into hiding under another name” and took gigs around her hometown. Eventually, the undercover work “ended up getting around anyway.” But the singer managed to keep her place on American Idol.

Crystal Bowersox Almost Walked Away From ‘American Idol’

Initially, the cumbersome rules paired with the uncomfortable idea of pitting singers against each other almost led Bowersox away from the series. But even before signing the contracts, she was barely able to support her son. So, she realized she had to go all in and take a chance at stardom.

“I was camping out at my dad’s house on the living-room floor,” she admitted. “And playing the $50 bar gigs was not going to cut it while caring for my child.”

So Bowersox strapped her newborn in her car and then made the five-hour drive from Illinois to Ohio where she grabbed her ticket to Hollywood for her rendition of Erma Franklin’s Piece of My Heart.

Luckily, the chance opportunity ended up turning her life around. After coming in second to Lee DeWyze, Bowersox has created an impressive career. Not only has she released four studio albums, but she’s also appeared in several TV series and music videos. And, she had lent her vocal to soundtracks for shows such as Cedar Cove and The Tonight Show.