The senior voice performance major put graduation on hold to compete in the long-running reality TV series
Singer-songwriter Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon has performed in church choirs, music festivals, local venues and even Towson University’s Center for the Arts while working toward his degree in voice performance.
But in New York City in September, Harmon gave his most life-changing performance yet—his “American Idol” audition for celebrity judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.
“I was able to audition with an original song, so that was a great opportunity for me to put my music out there,” says Harmon, 26, a Catonsville native who transferred to TU from University of Lynchburg in spring 2017. “It was so exciting to be able to sing in front of the judges—it was a surreal experience.”
Harmon had been encouraged to audition for the long-running reality TV series over the years, but it was prompting by “American Idol” producers that inspired him to finally take the leap.
“I was working as a janitor at the time and trying to finish my degree, and it felt like my music career hadn’t really gone anywhere yet,” says Harmon. “I’d been doing music for a while and I figured I should probably take this opportunity.”
Harmon describes his vocal style as Gospel-inspired, and “an amalgamation of” his favorite artists including Elton John, Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley.
“I first learned music growing up in church,” says Harmon, whose father is a preacher. “I also grew up in the South and my dad used to listen to John Denver and Johnny Cash, so there’s some old country influence in there.”
After dropping out of University of Lynchburg for the third time, Harmon enrolled in TU determined to complete the bachelor’s degree in music he had been pursuing since 2011 while working full time.
Just days into his final semester at TU, Harmon had to make the difficult decision to postpone his anticipated spring 2019 graduation to compete in “American Idol.”
“His opportunities have exploded, whether he wins or not,” says Leneida Crawford, music professor and Harmon’s academic advisor, of his appearance on the ABC reality juggernaut that has launched the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Clay Aiken and more. “What we’ve been able to offer him is more than musical training—he was already very talented when he came to us—but an opportunity to grow in a welcoming environment.”
At TU, the singer says he found support and community when he needed it most. “I felt very affirmed being at Towson,” says Harmon. “I went through my coming out experience here, and I was really overwhelmed by the amount of support I was shown by the faculty and the students.”
Harmon remains determined to return to TU to complete his degree. “I plan to ride the ‘American Idol’ train, and wherever it lands me, hopefully it will be an open door for my music career,” he says. “I would love to finish with my music degree and continue to pursue my own artistry at the same time. I’m right there at the finish line.”
On Sunday, March 10, Harmon earned his “golden ticket” to Hollywood. If you missed it, you can watch his full audition online. Continue to follow Harmon’s journey on ABC Sundays at 8 p.m. EST and Mondays at 8 p.m. EST beginning March 18.
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Diverse and Inclusive Campus.