Article from Citizen Tribune

Caught in his Web
By John Gullion, Tribune Managing EditorJodi Frasier heard the rumors but frankly, she refused to believe them.

The young man from Morristown, Tenn. with the affected British accent, plaintive voice and enthralling back story simply couldn’t be kicked off the show so close to reaching his goal.

Then it happened.

The then 18-year-old Josiah Leming got the news that he didn’t make the cut. He left the show, gamely trying to hold back the very flood of emotion that had helped make him almost famous.

Sitting in her upstate New York home, Frasier couldn’t endure it. She turned the TV off on the spot.

For millions of “American Idol” viewers that’s where the story stopped. But for the 38-year-old mother of two, that’s really where the story begins.

The Internet isn’t a thing any more, it’s a place. It’s organic with a pulsing life as real for many people as New York or L.A. or Morristown. The Internet is where Frasier and many others went to on the night Leming first came into their living rooms via the same show that threatened to crush him the night he was sent home.

Frasier found Leming’s MySpace page after his first appearance on the show. As Leming’s face time increased, so did the hits on his self-made Web site.

By the time Josiah made a triumphant post-Idol appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show, a cyber community of young and, well, not-as-young, male and female, gay and straight had taken seed. The page had a life of its own.

“Basically we were all on the site as individuals doing the same things looking for information on Josiah and the progression of his career,” she said. “We found out through that process that we all had a lot more in common than Josiah himself. We found that on a day-to-day basis, it’s hard to hang out with a lot of friends. You’re an adult, you have kids but with this community you’re able to do that on your time.”

Frasier congregated with a group within the group. They are the Lemingheads.

From various walks of life from all around the country, they are drawn together by a love for a teenage troubadour that few of them had met until a couple of weeks ago.

On April 30, the Lemingheads converged on Dallas. Leming was playing a show at a little club there. As fate would have it, one of the Lemingheads lives in Dallas and offered the other nine ladies space on her floor.

“I think the reason they jumped on planes is because Josiah’s story inspires us,” said Debra Conway, who hosted the group. “The fact that he’s a good musician and his lyrics speak to people so deeply is the added bonus. Because he was exposed to us in our living rooms on ‘American Idol,’ we sort of found each other … we realized we all felt the same way.”

Judy Male, a 48-year-old mother of two from Santa Cruz, Calif. had already made an 800-mile round trip for an L.A. show. But she went to Dallas mostly to experience a show with the other Lemingheads.

“We met because of him. He’s brilliant. His brilliant personality is adorable and he has an endearing quality when he performs,” Male said. “It’s like he’s in another world. There’s no putting on at all.”

Of course, as a mother of teenage daughters, Male had a little explaining to do when she told of her upcoming trip.

“My daughter said, ‘Mom, isn’t this what you said not to do on MySpace?’” Male said. “My family thinks I’m nuts … this is so out of character.”

Making a fairly spur of the moment, cross-country trip isn’t exactly a common occurrence for Frasier either, but she said she made the trip for what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“We’d all been waiting for him to go into the studio,” she said. “We figured this may be the last time we’d all be able to see him in an intimate setting.”

There is a feeling amongst the Lemingheads that Josiah is on the cusp of something huge. Like the kids that filled the Cavern Club in Liverpool before the Beatles became the Beatles, the Lemingheads believe that they will get to say they saw Josiah before he was a star.

“This kid is brilliant,” Male said. “The thing about him and why he’s touching so many women, mostly he seems to get it. Men never understand women. They don’t know what women want. You can see in this boy’s lyrics that he gets it.”

The question of how a performer still in his teens can strike such a deep chord within middle-aged women, many of them mothers with far more life experience, is complicated.

“It’s amazing,” Conway said. “I felt like at the beginning I had to try and defend myself. I usually like Eric Clapton … guitar based rock. I also loved Bob Dylan so I’ve compared Josiah’s-type lyrics to Dylan’s but that’s not even a good comparison because Dylan did not write about heartache like Josiah does.”

Frasier also points to how well Leming can express inner pain.

“I think a lot of his music has to do with loss and all the emotions that go along with it,” she said. “I’ve personally suffered some significant losses. His lyrics reflect those emotions. It helps people. All the women I was with, we’ve all found his music. It helps us day-to-day. As we listen to it, we feel better.”

Leming’s fame grew when Idol played up the dramatic aspects of his life. He lived out of his car as he toured the South trying to find gigs.

Though Leming didn’t refer to himself as homeless, the Idol producers played off the living out of a car angle.

Truthfully, Leming was never actually homeless, he simply chose not to live at his parents’ home as he chased the life of a musician on the road.

Leming’s heart-on-his-sleeve crying jags on the show also endeared him to his fans. When he later revealed his mom is ill with in his words a terminal form of cancer, his emotions came into clearer view.

“His feelings about what is going on with his mom, the fact that he’s been going through this has shaped him certainly as a lyricist and a philosopher,” Male said. “Her circumstance has really made him who he is.”

Male has been in contact with Leming’s mom, in fact, his mother put in a good word for Male at the L.A. show to make sure she got in.

That concert, Leming’s first after Idol, was to a packed house at a small club known for indie bands. Male says Spider-Man himself, Tobey Maguire, was in the audience.

“(Josiah) was so happy and humble,” Male said. “He was taken aback by how he was being greeted by people.”

Idol, though obviously an emotional roller coaster for Leming had opened many doors. In fact, the weekly Idol appearances were a spring board into Josiah fandom for all of the Lemingheads. However, they are quick to point out that his MySpace page revealed musical chops that producers didn’t accentuate as they focused on his back story. The Web, each of the women said, is what kept them coming back for more.

“I realized he was really a musician, a singer/songwriter of the old school age,” Conway said. “He seemed very much to be an old soul. I had an opportunity to concentrate on his music because I had to wait a week for him to be back on television.”

Once Josiah was off the show and the subsequent wave of TV appearances ended, the friends had to turn to his Web site for Josiah news.

The fact that he shows up there to answer questions or chat with his fans was an added bonus.

By the time Josiah announced the Dallas show, Conway was comfortable enough within the group to open her home.

“It was impulsive,” she said. “But I love cooking and hosting. It was very much in my nature to say everybody come here. We’d made friends and this was a very big thing. The fun of this is us getting together. If everybody’s here, we can stay up all night and talk, which is what we did.”

The freedom to be spontaneous seems to be an invigorating factor for the Lemingheads. Stepping outside the molds of being mom, wife or office worker, doing something unexpected and sharing it with new friends was a common theme.

“By the time we all made the trip, we were as excited to meet one and another – almost – as seeing Josiah,” Frasier explained.

When Josiah took the stage – with the Lemingheads supporting him wildly from the front row – sharing the experience made it all the more fun.

“I think knowing that people were there of the same mindset made it much more comfortable in interacting with Josiah,” Frasier said. “Enjoying the show, we were there as a group. He knew that and he welcomed that.”

The show – they all said – was fantastic. Leming played his older songs as well as some new ones for an upcoming album that will drop nationwide later this year.

“It was phenomenal,” Frasier said. “I’ve been to a lot of very good shows … his emotion – joking back and forth – it was very personal.”

They have since returned to their lives, complete with promises to make the get-together an annual occurrence.

But Conway said the experience runs deeper than that. Leming’s dream – maybe more importantly his commitment to that dream – provides the ladies with the inspiration to shake themselves from the ruts of their everyday lives.

“I know that it brought me back really hard. Could I have done that when I was 19 years old? Did I even know my dream at 19 enough to make those sacrifices?” she asked. “I can do this, too. I can rethink my goals and really get out there and do what I want to do in my life, too.

“That’s the inspiration of us getting together and going to his concert and applauding him. We wanted to give him back the joy he has given to us.”

Source: Citizen Tribune

1 Comment

  1. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

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    This site is in no way shape or form affiliated with Josiah Leming. This is simply a fan site to show our dedication to the artist. All images, information etc. are credited and belong to their rightful owners.