It’s safe to say that most, if not all, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship community is buzzing with the success Walker Burroughs is having as a contestant on the hit television show “American Idol.”
Burroughs, a sophomore music major at Belmont University and son of CBF partner PASSPORT youth camps founders Colleen and David Burroughs, on Sunday advanced to the round of eight with his performance of “When She Loved Me” from the film “Toy Story 2” in a contest of the remaining 10 contestants all singing a Disney tune.
This coming Sunday, April 28, he will vie for one of the six remaining spots singing a song from the 1970s and 1980s British rock band Queen.
The narrowing of the field has generated intense excitement on social media – and no doubt around church water coolers and coffee makers – in CBF circles. Ministers, lay people and even CBF state and national officials are posting “Idol” performance videos and photos, links to television and newspaper news reports, and information on how to vote for Burroughs.
Certainly, the excitement is no greater anywhere than in Burroughs’ hometown of Birmingham, Alabama – where the “Idol” fervor isn’t limited to CBF, or even church, folks.
“We’re hearing it a lot here, all over the place,” said Terri Byrd, the coordinator of Alabama CBF.
A local ice cream company has named a flavor after Burroughs, Byrd said. Called “Good Heavens,” the Bruster’s Real Ice Cream offering is a mixture of vanilla, peanut butter and Cheerios inspired by typical Burroughs breakfast fare. And it is in demand nationwide, a local television station reported.
Blackwell’s Grill in Birmingham’s Vestavia Hills neighborhood has been hosting Idol watch parties, organized by Byrd, and donating 50 percent of profits from the gatherings to help send Burroughs’ parents to and from the “Idol” tapings in Los Angeles.
At that and other locations, including the Burroughs’ home congregation, Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, Byrd and other supporters are selling Walker Burroughs buttons, t-shirts and posters. Those proceeds also go toward Colleen and David Burroughs’ travel expenses for the show.
It’s why Byrd said she has been plastering Facebook with posts about Walker Burroughs’ performances, online voting opportunities and details for the next scheduled watch party at Blackwell’s Grill. Burroughs followers can get updates on his Facebook fan page.
Byrd said she has mixed motivations for her enthusiastic support of the young performer. One is that she’s seen him grow up with her own kids, who are close in age, at Vestavia Hills Baptist, where she also attends church.
She also watched him grow as a musician throughout his childhood at camps, at school talent shows and even in sacred settings.
“I’ve seen him perform, oh yes,” Byrd said. “Walker was a frequent performer at church with the youth praise team. He also put on a concert at church to raise money for missions. I always knew he would be great.”
Another reason Byrd said she is so on-board with the Burroughs’ American Idol appearances is that they have helped people across Alabama get their minds off several recent weather-related tragedies that have plagued the state.
“We have been so grateful for this story with so many things to be concerned about, so many disasters,” she said. “We are so often speaking about the hard things. This is just such a great feel-good story about a great human being we are so proud of in Baptist life.”
Voting for Burroughs’ next appearance will begin at the start of the nationwide simulcast at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and close during the last commercial break either on the “American Idol” website or by downloading the “American Idol” app. Each viewer is allowed up to 30 votes. The remaining six contestants will be announced at the end of Sunday’s broadcast.