‘American Idol’ finalist brings a piece of home to servicemembers

Story and photo by Christine June
USAG Kaiserslautern

Country music singer and former “American Idol” finalist Bucky Covington yelled out, “K-Town are we ready?” before going straight into  his song “American Friday Night” at the Kazabra Club on Vogelweh in Kaiserslautern.

“American Friday Night” is the first song from Mr. Covington’s self-titled debut album, and that’s exactly what it was as he brought “home” to more than 100 fans Friday as part of his first United Service Organizations tour.

 “Pretty much, USO sums up to me – bringing a piece of home to the troops all over the world, and I’ve been looking forward to doing a USO tour for a very long time,” said Mr. Covington, who placed eighth on the fifth season of Fox Network’s talent competition series “American Idol.”

For 75 minutes, Mr. Covington performed songs from his 2007 debut album, including the three singles that hit the top 10 on the Hot Country Songs chart.

“We will definitely play all of those (top 10 singles) and then a couple of more off of the first album,” said Mr. Covington, a native of Rockingham, N.C. – the heart of NASCAR country.

One of those top 10 songs, “A Different World” is a fan favorite of Master Sgt. David and Amanda Whitt, from the 735th Civil Engineer Squadron, who arrived more than an hour early for the concert.

“It reminds you of your childhood,” said Mrs. Whitt, who admits to being an “American Idol” fan and a big fan of Mr. Covington. She made sure to bring her camera in case she was able to take a picture with him.

Sergeant Whitt said the song “is about growing up in the olden days when we didn’t have the stuff they have now. Like, children weren’t sitting around playing video games; they were outside playing with their friends in the park. That’s mainly what it’s about.”

Fans like the Whitts got an extra treat as Mr. Covington and his band, which includes his twin brother Rocky, played a few songs from his not-yet released sophomore album.

“I’m in the middle of putting together a second album right now in the

studio,” said Mr. Covington, who added that he took a little break from it to do this tour.

Laced in between songs from his first and second albums were several


“I like to go as far into left field as possible with my cover songs,” said Mr. Covington, who was singing country and southern rock every weekend while working in the family’s body shop during the week for about 10 years before trying out for “American Idol.”

He wasn’t kidding. The cover songs ran from artists like Pink Floyd to Elvis Presley. He also performed a duet with his twin brother of Willie Nelson’s “Seven Spanish Angels.”

A real treat for fans was when his down-home charisma – that endeared fans when he was on the hit show – came shinning out in the midst of the music.

He asked the crowd to, “Raise your hands and make some noise if you’ve seen or heard about ‘American Idol.’”

Every hand was up, and the noise was deafening until Mr. Covington broke in with “Well, I have a secret … ”

Someone yelled out, “Simon didn’t like you.” Simon Cowell is an “American Idol” judge known for his blunt honesty.

“That’s no secret,” said Mr. Covington, with a laugh. “No, I was going to tell you that I’ve seen the show too, especially one season.”

He waited a moment, winked at the audience and said, “That was a really good season,” referring to the season when he was one of the top 12. The crowd agreed with another deafening cheer.

After the show, Mrs. Whitt got her chance to have her photo taken with Mr. Covington during a meet and greet, which lasted almost as long as the concert.

Here, Mr. Covington not only had his picture taken with fans, but he also autographed a few copies of his debut album, a belt buckle, guitar, homemade sign, a jacket, a couple of shirts and more than 50 USO-provided photographs. He even signed a lucky fan’s back.

Before the show, Mr. Covington visited the USO Wounded Warrior Center and the Wounded Warrior Transition Unit on Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“It was awesome,” he said.

Kaiserslautern was the third stop for Mr. Covington on his weeklong USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour, which was hosted here by U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern’s Family Morale Welfare and Recreation directorate. Previously, he performed shows at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, on Tuesday and Shinnen, the Netherlands, on Thursday. After Kaiserslautern, he visited Schweinfurt on Saturday and Stuttgart on Monday.

“The USO brings the tours out to give military members and their families a little touch of home – to let them know we are thinking about them; we appreciate their sacrifices and what they are doing for us,” said Dana DePaul, USO entertainment tour producer. “So, anyway that we can bring them a little touch of home, we try to do that every chance we get.”

For a list of USO tours, visit www.uso.org/whatwedo/entertainment. To learn more about the USO or to find out how to support the troops, visit