Chayce Beckham has stolen America’s hearts on “American Idol”, and now he’s been named this season’s winner after viewers cast enough votes to push him over the top on May 23, 2021.
The 24-year-old heartthrob from Apple Valley, California, operates heavy machinery for a living. Given that he’s won the show, however, it seems unlikely that he’ll return to that gig.
Beckham has performed a range of songs over the course of the season, from Disney songs to original ballads, and the judges — Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie — have supported him every step of the way.
Here’s what you need to know about Chayce Beckham:
1. Beckham’s Life Changed After He Crashed His Car & Was Charged With Drunk Driving
During his initial audition for “American Idol,” Beckham opened up about a pivotal moment that reframed his perspective on life. He explained that he was at “rock bottom” and got into a bad car accident and “ended up on the side of the highway upside down.”
San Bernardino County court records reveal that the crash took place on October 31, 2020. Beckham faces two misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence and driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. and has pleaded not guilty to both, court records show. During an April 12, 2021, arraignment in the Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court, Beckham was scheduled for a June 7 pretrial hearing.
Beckham said in an interview with The Sun, “I was all, like, down and out. I had gotten in my car wreck, my DUI, and whatnot. A lot of stuff had been going great for me, but that all kind of got taken away from me.”
Beckham continued, “And then losing my house and my girlfriend and my dog, getting in trouble with the law and having to have your mama come pick you up from jail and stuff, kind of puts you in a weird headspace.”
After that, Beckham moved back home to live with his mom and stepfather, The Sun reported.
2. His Family Persuaded Him to Audition for ‘American Idol’
In the aftermath of his accident and arrest, Beckham said that his mother and stepfather were the ones who “strongly encouraged” him to audition for “American Idol.”
“I think that they really just saw that I was kind of giving up on my dreams a little bit,” he shared.
Beckham’s mother, Windie Lynn Petersen, was interviewed by “American Idol” for the singer’s initial audition and explained how her son was on a “dark path” and “American Idol” came at what felt like the right time.
Beckham’s stepfather told producers during his audition that the competition gave Beckham “a reason to live and move forward.”
For the Mother’s Day episode of “American Idol,” Beckham sang an original song called “Mama,” which he wrote during Hollywood Week in December, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
“I thought about all the things my mom had to do just to raise us, and all the things she overcame, and how it kind of led up to me being able to chase my dreams,” he said. “I called her after about 15 minutes of writing it, and I said, ‘Hey, listen to this song I wrote for you.’”
3. Perry Told Beckham He Sounds ‘Like the Heart of America’
Before Beckham auditioned for “American Idol,” he worked as a forklift operator in Apple Valley, California, about two hours outside of Los Angeles.
After his audition, Bryan said Beckham is “what this show is all about.”
Perry added, “You sound like you operate a forklift. You sound like the heart of America, I think you’re a top 5.”
Asked by the Victorville Daily Press what advice he would give to music hopefuls, Beckham said, “I would say don’t stop playing the guitar. Go in your room, shut the door and play your guitar. Turn the radio on and learn how to play the songs. And don’t let nobody make fun of you for that or for trying to sing. Just keep on trying, and when you get older, you go out there and play shows.”
4. His Song ’23’ Is No. 1 on the Country Chart
On May 16, 2021, Beckham sang an original song on “American Idol” called “23,” which he said he wrote during a “big turning point in my life.”
Beckham explained to the Los Angeles Daily News, “A lot of things around me were changing. And I wrote it and I just kind of kept it in my pocket and played it for people here and there. It was never anything that I was banking on, or I was like, ‘Hey, listen to this great song.’ People would tell me, ‘Man, that song is going to be on the radio one day,’ and I was like, ‘There’s no way,’ because I just couldn’t picture it.”
The outlet reported that “23” has reached No. 2 on the songs chart on iTunes and No. 1 on the country chart.
Beckham admitted, “It blows my mind that something I wrote a year ago, you know, that so many people can connect to that. What I was trying to accomplish with that song was just letting people connect to it whichever way they want.”
5. Beckham Has 4 Sisters
Beckham has four sisters and no brothers, according to the Victorville Daily Press.
He said that after his journey on “American Idol,” he plans to keep pursuing his music career.
Beckham told The Los Angeles Daily News, “I think it’s super important to take the momentum that you have and keep going with it. And not say, ‘Oh man, this crazy show’s over with, I’m going to relax for a month or two.'”
He concluded, “I think it’s important for me to get out of this and hit the ground running.”
Beckham told the Victorville Daily Press that he will put out an album and then “go on tour to meet all my fans in every state that I can.”