Dillon James

Dillon James, a Bakersfield local, is in the top 20 of season 18 of "American Idol."

Dillon James has all of the makings to become a star.

With his boyish good looks, 10-gallon hat and tattoos covering his torso, James, whose real name is Dillon Galanski, stands out in a crowd. But it's his musical talent that really allows him to shine. The self-taught musician has a voice that can remind a listener of their first heartbreak.

James, a Bakersfield local, isn't letting his talents go to waste. As one of the top 20 contestants in the current season of "American Idol," he's pursuing his dream and making sure everyone knows that he is a star.

During his "Idol" audition, James opened up about his struggles with addiction that left him homeless sleeping in a parking garage. He turned to his family and religion to help him on the road to recovery. The 26-year-old released his first EP, titled "Good Ole Boy," in January 2019.

"American Idol," now in its 18th season, will be filming live shows with judges and contestants filming from their homes. The live rounds will begin April 26 on ABC.

James spoke with The Californian about music, "American Idol" and support from Bakersfield.

Q: What’s your background in music?

A: I’ve been playing guitar since the age of 12. I have been writing my own music for about the last 10 years. I also record my own music in my home studio. I recently released a self-produced EP called “Good Ole Boy” that you can find on all streaming platforms.

Q: What inspired you to go on “American Idol”?

A: Actually, they found me. I did a performance in L.A. at Lower Deck Sessions and someone from "American Idol" saw it and reached out to me. I had never thought of doing a show like this before. "American Idol" offered a huge platform for me to try and help people struggling with the same things I do.

Q: How does it feel being in the top 20?

A: It feels amazing! I never thought I would make it this far. There are so many talented, great people in this competition, I am just blessed to be a part of it all for as long as I can.

Q: What have been your biggest challenges?

A: The years I was abusing drugs and alcohol. I am now over two years sober thanks to God, my family and a lot of hard work. I am grateful every day for the second chance that I have been given at life and want to help people that are ready to give up, see that there can be light at the end of that tunnel.

Q: What do you hope to see with your future in music?

A: I hope my future in music continues to grow after the show. I want to do music for the rest of my life. It is a part of me and helps me every day. More so I want to use my music as a platform to help others.

Q: Where can people listen to your music?

A: iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and most streaming services, @Dillonjames21 Instagram and dillonjames.com.

Q: Anything you would like to add?

A: I would just like to thank all the people here that have reached out to me, especially all the local support. The love and kindness that they have shown me have been amazing. I hope to make them all proud.

Bowen West can be reached at 661-395-7660.

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