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Poets heart & an ex-Marines discipline
American Idol finalist staging free Manteca concert Sunday

A day designed to honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for America is being capped with a free concert and aerial fireworks to celebrate the safe return of veterans.

Josh Gracin - a Marine who made it as a finalist on the second season of American Idol and eventually launched a successful country singing career after completing his service - is staging a free concert this Sunday, May 29, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Woodward Park.

It will follow the 6 p.m. Memorial Day Weekend ceremonies that cap a day of tribute and remembering the fallen. Following Gracin’s concert will be an aerial fireworks display.

Gracin, 30, first gained attention as the fourth-place finisher during the second season of American Idol. After being eliminated from the show, he finished his Marine Crops service and then signed with Lyric Street Records after receiving an honorable discharge.

His debut album in 2004 produced the No. 1 hit “Nothin’ to Lose” as well as two more Top Five song on the Billboard country chart. His second album - “We Weren’t Crazy” - was released in 2008. It generated five more chart singles.

Gracin has a diverse and impressive set of skills. The most obvious is the voice that captured the attention of millions of American Idol fans during his season two run on what has become an American cultural phenomenon.

His all-American good looks, earnest charm and passionate vocal style earned him a devoted legion of fans, but beyond the stage, Gracin possesses a poet’s heart and an ex-Marine’s discipline and work ethic. It’s that potent combination of talent and tenacity that set Gracin apart and is fueling the newest chapter in his career.

“I want to sing. I want to write. I want to produce. I want to put myself on the chopping block,” said Gracin, who recently signed with Average Joe’s Entertainment. Signing with an independent record label feels like the right fit for Josh, allowing him room to grow and challenge himself while still providing structure and an outlet for his product.

Gracin has always had an independent streak and a creative maverick spirit that has served him well. As a child, Gracin listened to and sang Rhythm & Blues, Motown and oldies. Around 12 years old, he had a revelation when he was introduced to Garth Brooks on country radio, and he has never turned back.

“There’s not another genre that better reflects situations in my life,” he said.

A Michigan native who grew up listening to country and R&B music, Gracin auditioned for Idol (placing fourth on season two) while serving in the Marine Corps. Following his run on American Idol and the completion of his military service, he signed with Lyric Street Records and released his self-titled debut album in June 2004. The album was RIAA-certified gold and spawned three top five singles—“I Want to Live,” “Stay With Me (Brass Bed),” and the No. 1 hit “Nothin’ to Lose.”