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American Idol's Clark Beckham

Playing on the streets wasn’t what I expected.
I live to sing and play music. I thought playing on the streets of Nashville would be glamorous, that I would make lots of money. A student at Lee University at the time, I was learning how to work hard. As a member of Lee’s Campus Choir, touring on weekends and school breaks, I was applying my work ethic to my music. In doing so I became comfortable singing for people. Playing on the streets during the summer and Christmas breaks seemed like easy money.
My first night I staked my claim at the corner of Third and Broadway, my guitar case open to receive spare change from those passing by. After an hour I counted what I’d collected so far—$2. The streets are the ultimate equalizer. There is no glamor in watching people ignore you or, worse, go out of their way to avoid you. I would learn the ropes, but it took time.
Of course, playing on the streets, I saw people living on the streets. One night I’d been playing for a while when a man walked up. We talked. He didn’t ask me for anything. I asked him if I could get him something to eat. He let me buy him a hot dog, and we sat and talked. He wanted to change the course of his life, get off the streets, he said, adding that he had a job interview in a couple of days. I thought he was genuine, and I wanted to help. I offered to put him in a hotel until his interview. He looked at me, unbelieving. Then, convinced I was serious, he jumped up and spun around like a kid on Christmas morning. He didn’t care what people thought. He was on his way to a hot shower!
A few weeks later, I was competing in the Hollywood Week phase of American Idol. On camera the judges asked me a question, to which I replied, “I think America is hungry for the groove.” That phrase, “Hungry for the groove,” got some media attention, inspiring my friend Zeke to design a T‑shirt. I knew I wanted the proceeds from the sale of the shirt to help the homeless. Nashville Rescue Mission was the obvious choice. The Mission is making a real and practical difference in the lives of the homeless and the money they receive is used to provide hot meals and shelter. (The purchase of one of my T-shirts provides two homeless individuals a hot meal.)
The Mission is also a faith-based organization. What good is it to have a home on earth if you don’t have one in heaven? The Mission is working to set people free from the chains of addiction that have bound them, so they may run the course God has for them. People are people, whether they have a home or not. Jesus says if we are asked and have the ability to give, we are to give. Living without shelter, without income, without enough food is no one’s God-given destiny. The homeless do have a course to run. Because of Nashville Rescue Mission, they also have somewhere to run to.
 
Clark Beckham is a singer, songwriter, and musician. He was born in Nashville and grew up in White House, Tennessee. He graduated from Lee University with a degree in History. Most of his musical experience comes from playing in church and on street corners. Beckham finished as American Idol Season XIV runner-up. Visit clarkbeckham.com to learn more.

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