The Five Question Challenge with Paul McDonald

Paul McDonald Bright Lights

Paul McDonald talks about his “American Idol” experience and final hours of his Kickstarter campaign. (Photo property of Paul McDonald)

By: Jacob Elyachar,

Jake’s Take is proud to welcome Paul McDonald!

For 10 years, Paul toured and played original music around the country with his bands, Hightide Blues and the Grand Magnolias. Looking for his big break, Paul auditioned for the tenth season of American Idol and impressed judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.

In addition to taking eighth place on Idol, Paul has opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sara Bareilles and the Zac Brown Band and performed at countless music festivals that included Bonaroo, SXSW (South By Southwest) and the Hangout Festival. He has also seen chart success, as “All I Ever Needed,” a song that he released with ex-wife, Nikki Reed, was a part of The Twilight Saga-Breaking Dawn, Part Two soundtrack, which landed on the Billboard charts.

Currently, Paul is in the final hours of a Kickstarter campaign, where he hopes to raise the funds to record his debut solo album!

In this edition of The Five Question Challenge, Paul opened up about his American Idol experience and his Kickstarter campaign.

Jacob Elyachar: How have you grown as a singer-songwriter since your appearance on “American Idol”? What are some of the lessons that Randy, Jennifer, Steven and Jimmy Iovine taught you that have stayed with you at this chapter of your career? 

Paul McDonald: I am always evolving as an artist and a writer. Since my time on the show, I have learned a lot about songwriting. Mainly because before Idol, I was in a touring band, where I wrote the majority of the material in-house either by myself or with my guitarist. I was never really open to co-writing with other artists outside of the band. Now, I co-write all the time with different writers. You learn to take notes and pick up tricks and ideas from other artists. The judges and Jimmy Iovine made a big impression on me. It is always humbling being around such successful artists and businessmen. They taught me a lot about the business side of things and sticking to your guns and staying true to yourself.

JE: Could you describe your songwriting process to my readers?

PM: It depends. Sometimes I will just write lyrics or poetry and then pick up a guitar or sometimes a melody falls first when I’m playing a lick on piano or something. It is all a bit sporadic. That is the beauty of songwriting. It comes from different places and at different times.

JE: What are some of the challenges that you face as an artist in today’s music industry? How have you overcome those challenges?

PM: Being an independent artist is tough. It is a lot of work but the rewards are much larger when you win. When I started playing music I knew it was going to be a long road. There are always ups and downs in any entertainer’s career no matter how successful you are. The only way to overcome is to just push through and know that this is where you’re supposed to be at this exact moment in time. Keep working hard and believing and eventually something will hit.

JE: For your debut studio album, you launched a Kickstarter campaign! How has Kickstarter changed the way artists record their music?

PM: Kickstarter has been learning process for me. It is the first time I have ever tried to do a crowd funding campaign for an album. It has taught me a lot about my fan base and really shown me that I have a great support system of people that love me and care about my music. Making good records is really expensive, takes a long time and everyone involved in the Kickstarter I feel knows that.  It has really helped out with finances and allowed me to get in the studio to make more music.

JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring singer-songwriters who want to enter the entertainment industry, what advice would you share with them?

PM: It would probably be a really long talk. (Laughs) I would say prepare for the ups and the downs. Just stay true to who you are and believe in yourself always. If you want to accomplish something then you can do it. It just takes persistence and determination. There are no overnight successes in music. It is always a long road…. but it is a very fun road.

To learn more about Paul’s work, visit his website:

You can also donate to Paul’s Kickstarter campaign, by clicking here:

Paul is also on social media! Connect with him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & YouTube!


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Copyright 2015 Jacob Elyachar