Kason Lester was a fixture on the last season of American Idol.
Yes, that American Idol. The televised talent show responsible for breakout artist-turned-superstars Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
Thousands of singers across the country tried out at open casting calls in hopes of making it on the small screen to be critiqued by Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.
Kason made it, and despite the attention and newfound following, gives the glory to God, family, musical influences – and yes, his hometown.
Kason was raised in Lebanon, Tennessee – where his family operates Lester Farms. He discovered music at an early age. He’s always loved The Charlie Daniels Band and recalled his mom introducing him to the pop hits of Michael Jackson.
“I’ve wanted to create music and sing for as long as I can remember. I remember knowing that at 5-years-old. Growing up, I’d write songs and beats and guitar licks,” he said. “It wasn’t until I finally realized that nothing else was going to make me happy that I started really pursuing it. I ended up doing a complete 180 from what I was doing, built a recording studio in my apartment and decided to go to Belmont.”
In short, he started trusting that God would give him a path. He knows God also gave him a strong, supportive family. Kason is the son of Kevin and Teresa Lester and grandson of Bob and Fran Martin and Ken and Lynn Lester. His brother Mitchell started Lester Farms on Coles Ferry Pike.
“Their support is really what has allowed me to pursue music. I think most people go through some tough years growing up, trying to figure out what they want to do in life, as I did, and my parents stuck with me and believed in me the whole time – even when I didn’t believe in myself,” he said. “They even supported my metal band days and
would show up to my heavy metal shows in Nashville – even my Grandma!”
His family has watched American Idol since the show aired. Beginning in 2002, it was a hit on Fox for 15 seasons. “We’ve always love it and we used to have ‘Idol Nights’ watching it in the den,” he said. Last August, his cousin, Doug Corn, called to inform Kason that they were having open auditions in Chattanooga. After some convincing, Kason agreed to go try his luck.
“Mom and I drove down at 4 a.m. and I waited in the line of thousands of people until it was my turn. I played an original song and the producer loved it. The rest just kept rolling from there,” he said.
In October, Kason had the opportunity to play in front of the superstar judges. He commented that it was one of life’s coolest experiences.
“I received a ‘yes’ from all three judges and got my golden ticket to Hollywood,” he said. “I made it through all of the rounds in L.A. and was told I was going to Hawaii for the top 40.”
While in Hawaii, sitting on the beach, waiting to perform in front of Perry – Kason had a revelation. He was part of a national show – one he’s watched since childhood. “It’s surreal. The whole process was positive for me,” he said.
Kason said the exposure received from appearing on American Idol has been “mind blowing.”
“We’ve had people from all over the country come to the strawberry stand just because they saw us on American Idol. It’s opened up so many doors in the music business, as well. It’s given me the platform I need to make it a career,” he explained. “I thank God for the opportunity. I’m recording and writing music, playing shows – and this is just the beginning for me.”
Kason has played shows as far as Nebraska and is planning a tour this fall with his band.
“It’s an exciting time and a dream come true,” he said. Still, home will always tug at the rocker’s heartstrings.
“My hometown support has been a blessing. At my American Idol viewing party at the Capitol Theatre, there were so many teachers and people who have made a difference in my life, going all the way back to Mrs. Stephens – my kindergarten teacher,” he said. “Friendship Christian School has also played a big role in my life, giving me a strong environment to grow up in. I’m really thankful for it and for the people involved with it.”