He’s one of the most successful “American Idol” alumni to rock out on his own terms.
Next week, Chris Daughtry presents his virtual “Live from Home Tour” on Aug. 18 to benefit 19 venues across the country, including The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia.
“We’re all itching to get back out on the road,” Daughtry told WTOP. “I never realized how much of my identity was wrapped up in touring until two weeks into quarantine and I’m like, ‘Who am I?’ This identity crisis. It’s been great being at home and spending time with the kids and my wife … but we wanted to do something to feel engaged with the fans.”
So, he decided to launch this unique series to keep venues afloat during the pandemic.
“We thought it’d be awesome if we were able to pair up with these venues because we know how important they are to the community and to the music industry,” Daughtry said. “The Birchmere is such a legendary club and it just seemed really cool to be a part of that legend. We want to see these businesses hopefully stay in business and keep going.”
You can stream the concert for $10 a ticket or more for bonus packages.
“We have a soundstage set up in Nashville that we’re renting out, so we’ll do the whole thing from there,” Daughtry said. “It won’t be prerecorded, it will be live, so if there’s any hiccups, you’re gonna see every bit of them, but we want to keep it loose. We want the fans to feel engaged. It’s certainly weird for us because we can’t see them.”
The interactive event includes a Q&A, song requests and VIP meet and greet.
“They’ll be able to submit questions like you do on Instagram Live, so we’ll be able to see those in real time,” Daughtry said. “As far as the set list, we wanted to certainly keep it fresh and bring back songs that we haven’t played since our first tour. … Hopefully everybody walks away having fun and experience some joy to break up the monotony.”
Ironically, Daughtry hasn’t spent this much time at home since he was living outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, before auditioning for Season 5 of “American Idol” in 2006.
“I was working at a car dealership doing the daily grind, playing clubs on weekends to try to get my name out there,” Daughtry said. “Where I lived at the time, there was a lot of market for cover bands … but they didn’t want any original music, so it was always kind of tough to get a gig, surprisingly. … Going on that show certainly turned the pages.”
Daughtry’s gravelly voice and rock star presence became so popular with the judges that fans were shocked when he placed fourth. Still, like Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert, the runners-up often achieve more success than the actual winners, as Daughtry remains the third top-selling “Idol” alum behind only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
“Nothing was given to me, it didn’t fall in my lap, I had to work my ass off,” Daughtry said. “Even after the show, it was a lot of work. … I didn’t have days off. When everybody else was hanging out and partying on the ‘Idol’ tour, I’m back in the hotel room writing and recording. I believe you get in this world what you put out and I always try to do my part.”
It paid off, as his self-titled debut album “Daughtry” went straight to No. 1 in 2006, becoming the fastest selling debut rock album in Nielsen SoundScan history and featuring a string of hits with “It’s Not Over,” “Home,” “Over You” and “What About Now.”
“I had three of the songs on that record already written,” Daughtry said. “‘Home’ was one of them, I wrote that before I even went on ‘Idol,’ and then ‘Breakdown’ and ‘Gone,’ I had those roughed out in the years prior to ‘Idol,’ but I did a lot of the work afterward.”
The album won four American Music Awards and earned four Grammy nominations.
“Still yet to win a Grammy, but working on that,” Daughtry said, laughing.
He proved he was no one-album-wonder as his sophomore effort “Leave This Town” (2009) also debuted at No. 1 off the strength of the hit single “No Surprise.”
“There was no pressure on that first record; I came in fourth, nobody cared … so the next record, everyone was looking over my shoulder,” Daughtry said. “There was a lot of second guessing, a lot of pressure, but I kind of dug my heels in. … They didn’t think we had the record and I was like, ‘I think I’m done writing. I’m kind of burnt out here.'”
Since then, he has shown that he has a lot left in the tank, churning out three more albums with “Break the Spell” (2011), “Baptized” (2013) and “Cage to Rattle” (2018).
“I just have more life to write about now, so the subject matter is a little more mature as a songwriter,” Daughtry said. “Looking back, I was still really green during that first record. I feel like I’ve learned so much working with other writers and producers over the years. Being on tour forever has certainly made me a better performer, a better singer.”
He’s currently working on a new album called “Nothing Lasts Forever” (2021).
“We’re working on a new album now, which we’re really excited about,” Daughtry said. “We don’t know when it’s coming out … because we were kind of deep into making it when everything got shut down. So, we do have the first few songs lined up, I think coming soon, but as far as the record, that probably won’t be done until next year.”
Most recently, he appeared on “The Masked Singer” under the alias The Rottweiler singing Sia’s “Alive,” bringing him full circle back to reality TV singing competitions.
“It was extremely different from ‘Idol’ in the sense that I was under this veil of anonymity,” Daughtry said. “I didn’t realize I was in the same competition with Seal and Patti LaBelle. … [It’s] hard to breathe in this heavy, hot costume, then you add choreography. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done on stage, but at the same time, the most liberating.”