CU ALUM’S FORMER SINGING PARTNER NOW FRONT RUNNER ON ‘AMERICAN IDOL’
By Ashley Sidebottom, staff writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Each week, more than 30 million Americans watch American Idol, a singing competition for the next big pop star.
The show holds auditions in several cities around the country and contestants face several rounds of auditions before facing the three celebrity judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell.
The auditions have never been held in Kentucky, but one of the standout performers of American Idol Season Six has a connection to Campbellsville University.
Nathan Gaddis, son of Dr. Robert Gaddis, dean of CU’s School of Music, and his wife, Jeanne, attended Campbellsville University in 1996-97 as a music major, but after much thought and prayer decided he was being called to do other things.
Gaddis transferred to Belmont University in Nashville to be closer to the music industry and was a music business major.
“My goal was to always go to Nashville. I knew what God had called me to do and I knew that Belmont University was going to give me the education and knowledge I needed to get involved in the music industry,” Gaddis said.
It was at Belmont where he met a young woman by the name of Melinda Doolittle.
“We used to sing together at Belmont all the time,” Gaddis said. “We did some recording projects together as well.”
Gaddis said he and Doolittle were pretty much “the go-to people for back-up singers while we were in school together.”
“Melinda is shy, reserved and the sweetest girl you will ever meet,” Gaddis said.
Doolittle was one of hundreds of thousands of people to audition for American Idol and made it to the top 12.
During her audition, Doolittle said, “For me it’s fun, and I’ve always loved being in the background,” but Doolittle has officially moved to the foreground as one of the finalists.
Simon Cowell, known for his rude, critical and negative remarks, has given Doolittle positive comments each week, including, “fantastic,” “impeccable,” “outstanding” and a “young Gladys Knight.”
Gaddis and Doolittle have been out of touch for quite some time, but they have been able to keep up with each other’s careers through their vocal coach, Janet Kenyon.
Gaddis left Belmont 42 days before his graduation to join the group True Vibe, a Christian pop group formed by Jonathan Lippmann, who was a founding member of the group 98 Degrees.
“Jonathan kept calling me to audition and I finally, after turning him down several times, agreed to audition.” Gaddis said. “I felt like God was saying, ‘do this!’ after seeking wise counsel from parents and professors.”
The Grammy-nominated group toured the country and performed for groups of thousands of people. They made a stop at Campbellsville Baptist Church Jan. 16, 2002.
True Vibe disbanded in 2002 because of “creative differences,’ but got together to celebrate their 2003 Grammy nomination. Gaddis and group-mate Jordan Roe formed the group Sojourn Fare “because we liked the music we were writing and believed in it.”
“We had no intention of getting signed or gaining industry approval,” Gaddis said. “We toured independently for about two years.”
Gaddis eventually settled down in Naples, Fla., with his wife, Bethany, and decided to look at the career path for his future.
“In the summer of 2005, I felt that God was calling me to something greater. I felt like he was telling me to enter the local church ministry,” Gaddis said, and when First Baptist Church Naples called to tell him they wanted to talk to him about an opening for contemporary worship leader he jumped on it.
“I wanted to help the church reach a lost world, a lost generation, by meeting them where they are,” Gaddis said, “and music is a big part in that.”
“Music can reach people in ways that words could never even begin to touch.”
So while Nathan Gaddis tries to reach people through Saturday night “rocked out” worship services, every Tuesday night Melinda Doolittle attempts to touch all of America through her vocal performances.
Gaddis, his wife and their two-year-old son, Jaxon, tune-in to FOX every Tuesday and Wednesday night to see their friend perform on American Idol, although, Gaddis admits he has “always watched the show.”
“I can’t help it!”
“Melinda deserves to win,” Gaddis said, “because I know her heart is good, and she loves the Lord fiercely.”Campbellsville University, now celebrating her Centennial year, is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,310 students who represent 100 Kentucky counties, 32 states and 28 foreign nations. Listed in U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” 14 consecutive years as one of the leading Southern master’s colleges and universities, Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his eighth year as president.