I’m a Poster Boy for Believing

Josh Gracin’s come a long way—from the Marines to American Idol to the top of the charts—but it took a change in attitude for him to be happy.

Josh recently invited CW into his home for a photo shoot and a chat about his life and career. Here’s some of what he had to say to CW’s David Scarlett. For more about Josh, check out the May 5 issue of Country Weekly.

CW
What would you save if we were to say, “OK, in 5 minutes a wrecking ball is coming through. What are the first three things you’d save if you had to run in here and you had 5 minutes to grab 2-3 things, assuming your family is out?”
JG
All my cats out, all my family pictures, the memories. And I’d save my computer because it has a lot of photos that we don’t even have printed out on file, a lot of memories. So I would get all the family memories first and after that was saved, then I’d grab my guitars. And then I would grab my kid’s favorite toys and my play station, my favorite toy.
CW
How much has faith come into play in doing the things you’ve done in terms of just trusting it’s going to work out if you follow your gut? Is there an element of faith both in yourself and in something beyond yourself?
JG
Definitely beyond myself. And the truth is, if you want a poster child for believing in something beyond yourself, look at my life. I’m serious. Everything that’s happened in my life. There have been a lot of choices that I thought were mistakes at the time that led me to here, to talking to you right now. I was never the kid that you would think in a million years would join the Marine Corps, never, never. I didn’t think that I needed to. I thought I had bigger and better things I wanted to accomplish. But a turn of events that I thought would never happen led me there. I couldn’t hold down a job because I always thought I should be doing something better, something bigger and I had no responsibility, no nothing. And then Ann Marie, we were dating since we were 16 and she broke up with me because of that. And I couldn’t get things straight and just the turn of events led me to, “You know what? I’ve got to change something.”
And I always wanted to do something for others on a big scale and I thought that going in the Marine Corps would not only change me, but would accomplish that as well. Then thousands and thousands of kids go into the Marine Corps, and you don’t have a say over where you get put at all, once you finish training. They really don’t care. Your teachers really don’t care when you go to your training school where you train after boot camp. Your teachers don’t care. They put you where they need you. But for some reason, out of all those kids, out of all those teachers, I got a staff Sergeant that cared and she put me in a place that she thought would be good for a family. And there were just people in my life that were looking out for me that never knew it, and it just blows my mind.
Something beyond myself comes into play because I literally sat next to another Marine when we walked into the supply company headquarters where they were telling us where we were going to go. And I sat down and he said, “You’re going here and you’re going here.” And I got sent to a maintenance battalion supply, which is maintenance for the base. You don’t move, you don’t go anywhere, you don’t do anything. You stay put, and I ended up staying there for four years and you’re only supposed to stay, if you get put in a United States area, you’re only supposed to stay there for 2-3 years or something like that. It’s just amazing that that kid next to me has been to like three or four tours to Iraq already from what I understand, so it’s just amazing how people I’ve never met, never knew me, for some reason were looking out for me, it’s just amazing to me.
CW
Are you somebody who prays on a regular basis?
JG
I’m an in-the-moment prayer. I was born and raised in a church and I stopped going when I was about 16 or 17 because I felt the churches were focusing more on business than they really should and they were using the Bible to grow their business, and I didn’t agree with that. I grew up reading the Bible and it says in there, basically in human terms, you can have your own church, you can make your own church by reading the Bible and taking 5 minutes of your time to spend some time with Him, and that’s the way I believe. I’ve gotten away from praying every day and I should pray a whole lot more than I do. But when I do pray, it’s definitely not only for myself, but for a lot of different people.
CW
You don’t want to die with music inside you, you want to get it all out of you—is that the way you try to live your life? To not think when you’re 60, 70 or 80, “Man, I didn’t push hard enough, I didn’t do all the stuff I wanted to”?
JG
Exactly. And that’s why some say I micro-manage, but that’s not the case. I just want to make sure that everything and anything—if there are 10 ideas, do all 10 of them. If 3 work, at least you’re not going to sit down and go, “If I would have done this idea like I wanted to, it would have worked.” Because you’ll beat yourself up for the rest of your life if you do that. It’s sometimes kind of hard to get that mentality passed on to the powers that be, that are so used to doing everything this way. It’s really hard for them to wake up and kind of see things your way and do it your way. It just doesn’t happen like that, so you kind of have to be a little rogue and do things on your own without their help. That’s what we are trying to do.
CW
If things were to end next week, and you weren’t around anymore, what would you want your kids to remember about you?
JG
I hope they pick up on my drive. I hope that they strive for whatever they want in life. I’m living proof that as long as you want it and think it and, let’s be honest, as long as you have the ability to do it, the talent to do it, you can do anything.
I want them to know that I was able to realize what I’m good at and what I could do and go for it and drive and don’t stop, and don’t let people tell you you can’t do it. Plus, I hope another thing they’ll pick up on is my affection, not just towards family, but towards people in general. And, hopefully, they’ll pick up on that and they’ll pick up on the fact that I did something about my shortcomings. Never ever be too prideful like I used to. Admit your shortcomings and want to fix them. I still have a lot of fixing to do, but at least I know where they are and I’m not walking through life like I don’t have any problems.
CW
Can you tell at this age whether your kids have any rhythm or vocal ability?
JG
Not Gabbie yet, my youngest, who’s 1. I think she does, but the two oldest definitely have that fine arts ability and what I mean by that is writing. My daughter, Briana, is 6 and in kindergarten and she’s reading and writing already. We worked with her a little before she went into kindergarten, but in kindergarten she’s really picked up on it. My son, Landon, is 2 and he’s a ham. He just sits there and loves taking pictures and they love dancing and singing and drawing and acting and you name it. You see it in everything and anything they do and it’s awesome.

For more on Josh, check out the May 5 issue of Country Weekly.

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