Justin Guarini (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Justin Guarini (born Justin Eldrin Bell; October 28, 1978) is an American singer/songwriter and actor who rose to fame in 2002 as the first runner-up on the debut season of the television show American Idol.
Guarini was born in Columbus, Georgia. His father, Eldrin Bell, is African American, and is a former Atlanta, Georgia, Chief of Police, and current Chairperson of Clayton County Commission (Georgia). His mother, Kathy Pepino Guarini, is Italian American, and was a journalist for WTVM TV in Columbus, and later for CNN. Guarini was raised by his mother and stepfather, physicist Jerry Guarini, in Philadelphia's suburb of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
Early life and career beginnings
Guarini's musical experience started at the age of four when he was accepted by the Atlanta Boy Choir. After moving to Pennsylvania in 1985, he joined the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Boys Choir. Throughout his school years Guarini sang in school choirs, and from 1996-2000 was the lead soloist in an award winning a cappella group named The Midnight Voices. The group released an independent album in 1999 with proceeds benefiting a music scholarship fund at Guarini's alma mater, Central Bucks High School East in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He was a director/performer at the Riverside Haunted Woods in Bridgeton, Pennsylvania in 2001.
His high school and college theater credits include the lead roles in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Little Prince, The Pirates of Penzance, The Taming of the Shrew, and Once on This Island. In addition to singing and stage performing, Guarini plays the piano and guitar.
After studying vocal performance and theater studies at the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) in Pennsylvania, Guarini later moved to New York City where he attended the School for Film and Television. He worked in the New York theater before successfully auditioning for American Idol in April 2002. Shortly after being chosen for American Idol, he was offered a role in the Broadway production of The Lion King. Guarini wrote about his decision between the two offers in his exclusive 2008 blog for the television site, Fancast, stating, "I had attended master classes" I learned Zulu and Sotho phrases, as well as the music from the show. It was a dream almost come true at the time. But, now I knew I was onto something, and I wasn"t letting go. I politely declined the offer of a role...". He was also considering a contract offer from an independent record label, but the show's rules prohibited participants from having existing record contracts.
Idol judge Simon Cowell praised Guarini's performance in the show's first season, at one early audition telling him "Justin, you know, occasionally you're very privileged when you do a competition like this to hear somebody undiscovered who has a voice like yours." Guarini ultimately becoming the runner-up to winner Kelly Clarkson in September 2002. Soon after, Guarini signed with American Idol's 19 Management and secured a record deal with RCA. Prior to the American Idol Tour, he was the only contestant asked to appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", where Oprah Winfrey told him, "Justin, you have it." After reviews during the American Idol Tour describing Guarini as a "revelation" (Los Angeles Times), "easily the best performer" (Boston Herald), Guarini's career appeared ready to take off. However, unlike subsequent seasons, he was required to wait until after the release of the winner"s album before releasing any solo projects or accepting any outside offers. According to interviews with Guarini and his parents, he received many such offers but was contractually required to refuse them.
American Idol performances
Semifinal Group 2
"Ribbon in the Sky"
"For Once in My Life"
"Someday We'll All Be Free"
Nat King Cole
Burt Bacharach Love Songs
"The Look of Love"
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" "Get Here"
Michael Jackson Oleta Adams
Idol's Choice Judges' Choice
"Let's Stay Together" "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Al Green Elton John
"Before Your Love" "Get Here" "A Moment Like This"
Justin Guarini Oleta Adams Justin Guarini
1 3 5
His self-titled album, Justin Guarini, debuted in June 2003, coinciding with the single releases of the current second season American Idol top two finalists and the movie From Justin to Kelly, in which Guarini co-starred with Kelly Clarkson. The timing further hindered Guarini while having little impact on Clarkson, whose career momentum had been established with ongoing solo projects and individual promotion during the prior months. The album sold 134,000 copies and in December 2003 Guarini was dropped from RCA Records.
Guarini co-produced his second album Stranger Things Have Happened, independently released in December 2005 through his own production company, Justice Entertainment, Ltd.. The album of reinvented jazz standards was described by Allmusic as "a successful reinvention... where his natural skills shine", The Philadelphia Inquirer said that "Guarini displays an agile, attractive voice with good phrasing, supported by a sophisticated and funky backing ensemble."
In May 2008, Guarini released an acoustic EP titled Revolve comprising three songs ("Sweet Time", "Rock Bottom", and "When She Cries") co-written and co-produced with Shaun Ingram. Versions of the songs are planned to be included on his third solo album.
Additionally, he has completed music-related projects with other artists, including an album with David Hughes, a benefit song release with H.H. Gayuna Cealo, and a song for the documentary series Project Everlasting, launched August 2006 and featured on the Today Show. The title track from his album Stranger Things Have Happened is also used in the documentary.
He continues to produce and release music through his own production company, Justice Entertainment, while also working in television for the TV Guide Network.
Aside from the film From Justin to Kelly, Guarini's acting/entertainment-related projects include a 2004 role in the pre-Broadway New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater workshop/presentation of the musical Good Vibrations at Vassar College. His performance (which included singing, dancing, acting, and playing guitar) landed Guarini an offer to continue the role in the original Broadway production of the musical Good Vibrations, which he eventually declined. He continues to act in independent film projects such as the drama/action film Fast Girl, The Unknown: Frankie The Squirrel, Mafioso II: The Son, and the short film Tilt-a-Whirl for the Dances With Films Film Festival.
Some of his television appearances include a musical spoof for AMC's FilmFakers (2004), guest role in Run of the House, guest host/co-host for shows including Regis and Kelly (2003), VH1's Top 20 Countdown (2004), ManiaTV!'s U Pick 'Em and Too Short for Hollywood (2006), the guest host on the TV Guide Network (2006), and the CMT reality show Gone Country, Season 3 (2009).
In 2007, the TV Guide Network signed him as permanent co-host for Idol Wrap and Idol Tonight. His on-air duties with the network soon expanded to include guest hosting/appearances on other TV Guide Network shows, hosting movie premiere specials, and serving as a member of TV Guide Network's awards show team with on-air coverage of awards shows such as the Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards. He's also a recurring commentator for such shows/networks as the Today Show, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Style Channel, Comcast, and Larry King Live.
In 2010, Guarini was cast in his Broadway debut as Carlos in the original Broadway adaptation of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Guarini played the part of Will in American Idiot performing March 1, 2011 through the show's closing on April 24, 2011.
Good Vibrations (2004) as Jan
The Awakening of Angel DeLuna (2009) as Fred
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (2010"2011, Broadway) as Carlos
American Idiot (2011, Broadway) as Will
Rent (2011, Regional) as Roger Davis
Chicago (2011, Regional) as Billy Flynn
Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (2012, regional) as Drake McCandless
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (2012, regional) as Jake
While stepping out to support the opening of The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios in February 2009, Guarini confirmed his impending marriage to his fiancee, Reina Capodici. In an exclusive pictorial of the wedding, People (magazine) reported that the couple were married on Sept. 26, 2009. On April 26, 2011 his first child with Capodici was born named William Neko Bell Guarini.
A music education advocate, Guarini has been a national spokesperson for Support Music Education since 2004, speaking and performing at events such as the annual NAACP Leadership 500 Summit. In March 2005, he was part of a delegation which met with members of Congress, and later performed/emceed at a private gala concert for Congress, their families, and staff. In 2006, he received the NAMM "Music for Life" Award for his work in support of music education. According to the American Music Conference, "the NAMM Music for Life Award, created in 1990, recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments of individuals who play a significant role in promoting music education in the nation's schools and whose dedication to music and music education serves as an inspiration to others." On October 19, 2009, Guarini performed in a benefit for Education Through Music-Los Angeles along with jazz greats Patti Austin, Johnny Mathis, and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band.
He has also participated in raising funds for charities such as Habitat for Humanity, Rockers on Broadway, Broadway's Kitchen Sink, Children's World Organization, Foundation for Global Harmony, and various children's hospitals across the country.
Certifications (sales threshold)
The Midnight Voices
As lead vocalist
US sales: N/A
Released: June 10, 2003
Label: RCA Records
Stranger Things Have Happened
Released: December, 2005
Label: Justice Entertainment, Ltd
US sales: N/A
""" denotes releases that did not chart
Foreign Shores by David Hughes (July 2007) (featured vocalist)
Revolve (Acoustic) (May 2008)
Did You Know That I Know Your Journey? (2006) (vocals, music, co-produced)
Everlasting for documentary Project Everlasting (2006) (vocals, music, lyrics, piano)
What You Won't Do for Love for Drivetime Reflections (2010)(vocals)