What’s Next For ‘American Idol’ Finalist Colin Stough?

The rising star spoke with Country Now about life after the show, plotting a move to Nashville, and more.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

June 30, 2023


10:18 am

Share on:

Colin Stough; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

Colin Stough has experienced a whirlwind of life-changing opportunities in just the past few months, from finishing in third place on American Idol to releasing his first song, making his CMA Fest debut and so much more. 

After coming onto the show fresh out of high school, Stough is still trying to take it all in and adjust to his new career as a rising country star. He admits that he’s feeling “blessed” for everything that’s come his way so far. 

It all started at the Season 21 auditions when the Mississippi native left a lasting impression on the judges and all the viewers at home from his delivery of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” This led him to Hollywood and with each week that followed, he remained in the competition, learning and growing along the way. Stough made it all the way to the end of the show when he finished behind Iam Tongi and Megan Danielle.

“My mom signed me up for it. And I just, I didn’t know how far I could go on it, and I ended up about damn near going all the way,” Stough told Country Now. “So, I was pretty pleased with the outcome. It was pretty awesome.”

YouTube video

However, his journey didn’t end there. In fact, it’s just beginning as he’s acquired a whole new list of hopes and aspirations, like one day making his Grand Ole Opry debut. Plus, he’s getting to live out the dreams that his younger self never thought would be possible.

Fans may have come to know the 18-year-old from Idol, but his story with music began at a much younger age. Colin Stough started playing the guitar around eight years old and two years later, he used his own resources to purchase an instrument that he still uses to this day. 

I think I was like 10. It’s actually in the back seat of the truck right now,” Stough shared. “I got it from a pawn shop and I put like $20 on it. I pawned games, knives and stuff like that. And my mom went by later that day and paid that $20 off that I owed. So it’s her guitar, really,” he joked before adding, “I still got it. I still play it. It’s a little beat up, you know, it’s got some age to it, but it’s got a lot of memory on it.”

This meaningful guitar was the starting point for his career in country music. In addition to playing music, Stough would also write songs growing up and that has continued throughout Idol and into his current daily routine. This has proved to be quite an adjustment from his previous days of horseback riding and working in HVAC. 

“It was definitely a little wild. You know, I graduated last year and then went to work and now I’m doing this and it’s a different job, man. It really is. But it’s fun. I love it.” 

While he hasn’t made the official move to Nashville yet, Stough admits he’s been spending most of his time in the city, working with other songwriters, and developing his craft as he prepares to drop his next set of music. 

Colin Stough; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Colin Stough; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

“I’m pretty much based in Nashville. I haven’t bought a house or nothing like that, but I’ve been staying in Airbnb’s and looking at houses.”

He continued, “I wrote a lot before the show and when I was on the show and then now after the show. What I do every day is cut music, write music, and take meetings and stuff like that. It’s a new kind of full-time job.”

So far, Stough has released his debut single, “I Still Talk To Jesus,” followed by his song “Bad Day.” With these songs out in the world, fans are already itching for more and according to Stough, there’s hope that these tracks will soon lead to a bigger project. 

“Maybe an EP or a small album or something like that. Can’t give all the secrets away,” he teased with a laugh. 

YouTube video

He also made note of possible plans to hit the road on a tour in the near future. When the time does come for him to embark on a full run of shows, Colin Stough intends to bring his most authentic self to the stage and “just go up there and be me.”

“I’m kind of a dying breed,” he explained. “I like the southern rock and the classic country music and just being another guy in the world that’s just trying to bring that back to life.”

For now, he has a few individual shows scheduled across the next few months. On August 10, he will return to Mississippi to play his first hometown show since coming off Idol. During the show, he got the chance to perform in front of his community for the first time alongside a former member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ricky Medlocke.

“It was fun. You know, I got to see all my people, got to play a show for the hometown and got to go to back to my old high school and made some memories,” he shared of the memorable show. “It really meant lot to me cause I didn’t know how much of a town I had behind me. So when I went and did that, it really opened my eyes up a lot.”

Tickets are already sold out to his upcoming show in the town of Starkville, MS. While discussing this success, Stough said that “it means the world to me” to see so much support from his hometown. 

“I never would’ve thought I’d be doing stuff like that, you know, and opening for some of the biggest names in the country music two nights after. So it definitely means the world to me. I’m blessed.”

He will then make his way to Birmingham, AL on August 11 for a show at Zydeco and Hattiesburg, MS on August 12, where he has been added to the opening lineup for Bulls, Bands and Barrels. 

Additionally, Colin Stough will serve as support for Drake White’s upcoming concert in Phenix City, AL on Friday, July 28. 

Share on:

Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.