Reigning American Idol winner Noah Thompson has been wrapped up in a whirlwind of new experiences since taking home the title a little more than two months ago. From performing at CMA Fest to writing and recording new music, the Kentucky native is soaking it all in.
Thompson talked to Country Now about his new single “Stay,” his exciting encounter with a hit singer-songwriter, and what he’s learning about creating music from the Nashville community.
Originally recorded by Rihanna, the song “Stay” has played a major role in Thompson’s career so far. Releasing his own version as a single is a full-circle moment. The first time he heard the song, he was at work with his buddy Arthur, who encouraged him to audition for American Idol. “Arthur just basically forced me to sing the song so we could send it in,” he laughed, recalling the submission process for American Idol. “But I didn’t realize how it would be one of my biggest moments on the show doing that song.”
During the showstopper round, Thompson stunned the judges with his song choice and performance. “I guess nobody expects a kid with work boots and flannel to walk out and sing a Rihanna song,” joked Thompson.
He also formed a fun friendship with fellow country artist and Idol runner-up HunterGirl during their time on the show. “We started getting really close around the top 24 and we’ve just bonded ever since,” said Thompson. “We’ve just been good buddies and rooted for each other ever since.”
After winning the competition, Thompson’s record label approached him about recording a full country version of “Stay” and he was thrilled. “I was over the moon about that. I thought that was the coolest thing ever… I think it was just one of my biggest moments on the show and I feel like it was just so cool to put out a new single with it… My own version.”
Thompson has been commuting from Kentucky to Nashville on a regular basis to write, record, and learn the ropes from established songwriters and artists. One of his favorite experiences so far was meeting someone who shares his last name.
“I got to sit down with Josh Thompson and I found out that he was one of the writers on ‘Wasted On You’ for Morgan Wallen, so I was really excited about that. That was really cool for me.”
As he’s connected with other songwriters, Thompson has learned about the process of creating songs with other people. “The only thing I’ve ever done is I’ve sat in my bathroom at the house, my guitar and that’s as far as songwriting has ever gone for me,” shared Thompson. Now, he’s learning from people like songwriter and producer Jimmy Robbins about both writing and recording.
“I watched them write a song and it took ’em like 30 minutes,” said Thompson. “But he was walking me through it, how that works, how they go through that.” He also described his experience collaborating with other writers. “You guys are going back on an idea and whoever’s idea fits the title, then that’s what you go with and that’s what you write about. And I think that’s so neat how that works out. Cause I’ve never done it that way. So that was unique for me.”
When it came to recording in a studio, Thompson admitted that he didn’t have much experience. “My first time ever being in a studio was on the show when we recorded ‘One Day Tonight.” Now that he’s working with producer Jimmy Robbins in the studio on new music, he feels less pressure. “Jimmy’s just so easy to work with. We have a great time in there. We just laugh and have a good time.”
Thompson recently teased new music on TikTok, sharing a clip of a song he’d started, asking fans if he should finish it. “I have a lot more time on my hands now. I’m at home, I’m just constantly messing around with the guitar or whatever. I’m just trying to write some new things down. People seem to like it, so I’m probably gonna finish it.”
What can fans expect from his new music to be released later this year? Thompson feels that he’s a deeper songwriter after co-writes with some of the best talent in Nashville.
“I’m getting to experience so many new things and do all this and it’s just so much fun.”