The year was 2005. Popular television show American Idol was still respectable (come on, you know it's hard to watch now), and the country was in a tizzy over who the next Idol should be. The competition was fierce — arguably the best it's ever been and each week, viewers were on the edge of their seats.
While he didn't make the final cut, New Jersey-based singer Anwar Robinson gained a lot of support from urban viewers around the country that year. With his baby-faced looks, wide vocal range, and long locks, Robinson seemed destined for fame. Country singer Carrie Underwood eventually took home the top prize in 2005, but what's been going on with Robinson since he was voted off American Idol?
The answer is rolling through West Palm Beach this weekend, wrapped in an unlikely package. He's now starring in the rock opera smash, Rent, playing the lead role of Collins. Robinson says working in theater is still something he's surprised about, considering he had no acting background before he got the part. Unfortunately, that means his solo career is somewhat on hold. But he hopes that acting is helping him build up new skills in the meantime.
Rent Opens Friday, April 11 Second show Saturday, April 12 Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall 701 Okeechobee Blvd West Palm Beach.561-832-7469, www.kraviscenter.org 8 p.m. $15-60.
"Sometimes it takes two to three years to get an album out," Robinson says during a recent chat. "It has to go through marketing and all these avenues, so you learn to be patient. And you learn ways not to be one-sided."
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Robinson actually finished his debut album, The Truth, in December 2005, but the album is yet to be released. That's a heck of a long time to sit on an album, and he has actually written and recorded a follow-up album, The Truth II, which, you guessed it, isn't out either. He's not affiliated with a record label and hopes to land a recording contract soon. But Robinson says he's glad to be working and isn't flummoxed by the music industry at all.
"It's been a good time for me to reflect during all of this," says Robinson, who turns 29 next week. "I've worked with the United Way and visited schools all over the country, I'm acting... I've found a lot of things to do. I'm not frustrated at all."
I don't know if that's totally believable, but an artist earns a high level of credibility when he's willing to be, well, an artist and not compromise his principles.
"I don't want to be a pop artist," Robinson says. "I think people are starting to realize that. I sing adult contemporary R&B, and if that means I've got to wait a little bit longer for my shot, so be it."