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Now on with Reality

Clark Beckham of "American Idol" and Koryn Hawthorne of "The Voice" reflect on their experiences and goals.

After months of entertaining audiences on national television, The Voice final-four finisher Koryn Hawthorne and American Idol runner-up Clark Beckham hope to inspire others with their music.

"I don't ever want to just entertain because I feel like music is a gift that God gave me," Koryn says. "Every song I sing I want somebody to get something out of it."

Koryn, 17, attends Crossroads Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Lafayette, Louisiana, and placed fourth in the competition. Her open faith in God, which she says comes naturally, became a hallmark of her performances on the NBC show.

"I didn't even try to think about how people would react," she says. "Overall I would hope that it would help somebody to see that it's God that's doing this and not me."

Her coach on the show, singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams, repeatedly referred to her throughout the competition as an inspirational singer. After one particularly moving performance, Williams stood up and told the audience, "That's what happens when you put God first."

Koryn says Williams shares the same beliefs and vision as her and that he would encourage her both musically and spiritually. The most important thing he taught her, she says, was to be herself and trust God.

She found the entire odyssey overwhelming at times.

"I would have never imagined that everything that happened could have happened to me," she says. "Overall it was an amazing experience and I am blessed that God gave me this opportunity."

Though the show has ended, Koryn says many doors are opening and more music will be forthcoming. While excited about the prospects, she says she is in no hurry to settle. Her ultimate goal, she says, is to become established as an inspirational singer not only in the Christian genre, but with music to which everybody can relate.

While she says her stint on the show has helped her become a better person and artist, most memorable is her journey of faith.

"Going through this experience and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that God was with me is something that I will remember for the rest of my life," she says.

Koryn was the top contender among several competitors with Assemblies of God ties.

Beckham, 23, of White House, Tennessee, enjoyed a similar run on American Idol, placing second in the competition on the Fox network series. He grew up attending Cornerstone Church, an Assemblies of God megachurch located in nearby Madison.

Beckham says he always knew he wanted to sing, but that music has become something that he feels compelled to do.

He holds a degree in history from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, but says he hopes to have a career in music and is excited that American Idol has given him a platform to help him achieve this goal.

"Now performing is all I want to do," Beckham says. "I'm looking forward to taking what I've learned and continuing to use it through my whole career."

He describes his experience on the television show as a roller coaster and a giant learning process.

In addition to becoming a better singer, Beckham says he has a greater understanding of the music business. He also learned that succeeding entails not just about how well he sings, but how well he works with others and handles situations when circumstances go awry.

Though the televised competition is over, Beckham next month will embark with the rest of the top five contestants on the American Idol Live! summer tour.

Doors have opened for him in the music business, but as he decides what path to take, Beckham says he hopes to inspire people in many ways.

"I'd love to sing about this world that I'm seeing through redeemed eyes," Beckham says. "I would like to sing about love and heartbreak, but with the perspective of someone who was lost but is now found."


Shannon M. Nass

Shannon Nass and her husband, Greg, are credentialed ministers with the Assemblies of God and live in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, with their twin daughters, Naomi and Charlotte. Shannon is a freelance writer and special education teacher who also serves as coordinator for Beyond Survival Ministries, a Christian nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the gospel.