By my estimation there are currently 7,532 singing competitions on American television. Austin French had a chance to be on one of them. Actually, he had two chances. Two times he walked into some studio with the potential of later becoming a household name and both times he walked out exactly the way he came in – a talented musician from Georgia that most people haven’t heard of.
Austin’s first shot at fame was last year. Of the thousands of musicians slated to audition that day, Austin would be one of the last. By the time his turn came the judges were tired and ready to go home. He gave it his best shot but they weren’t impressed. At least not at first.
After the weariness of listening to auditions all day had worn off the judges reviewed tape of some of the performances they had seen. This time they were very impressed with Austin. Impressed enough to give him another chance. There was only one problem. A producer brought it to everyone’s attention that the judge’s initial decisions were final. If Austin wanted to win this particular competition he would have to wait until the next season. Before he flew back to Georgia, the show’s producers would make sure that would happen.
Recently, Austin got his second chance. This time, because the show’s producers made a point to have Austin out for this round of auditions, there would be no flying under the radar. This was a slam dunk. All Austin had to do was audition and he was virtually guaranteed a spot on the show.
But then there was another message from a producer.
Through all of this time Austin remained very outspoken about his faith in Jesus Christ. As you can imagine there were some who embraced Austin’s faith and there were some who didn’t. The show’s producers feared that most of America would not embrace Austin’s devotion to Christ. That’s when they told him that he was more than welcome to remain devoted to Christ off camera as long as he adopted a bad boy image on camera.
Right then, in the heat of the moment and with the glories that come with musical stardom literally glittering before his eyes, Austin had a decision to make. Either he could put his faith on the shelf to achieve a dream or he could stay true to who he was and potentially lose his final chance at making it big.
After Austin’s first audition, he was rejected by the show. Before his second audition, he rejected the show. No public exposure. No prize money. No tour. No contract. Just the peace of mind that comes with staying true to who you are in Christ and not bowing the knee to fortune and fame.
Austin is back in Georgia now, playing a few shows with his band and trying to figure out what to do for college in the fall.
This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that we need more Austins, that America would be better if we had more like him. While that may be true, it’s not likely to happen. I don’t say that because I’ve given up on Austin’s generation. I say it because guys like Austin, guys that are willing to take a stand and remain committed to Christ even when it costs them everything, will always be in the minority. And that’s the beauty of Austin’s story. He went on a television show that would have put him in the public eye if he would only agree to keep his faith private. But in the end, Austin resolved that a faith that’s not lived out publicly can’t really be lived out privately either.
I hear a lot about musicians being real. We’re supposed to believe that some country singer is real because he sings about a tractor. We’re supposed to believe that a rapper is real because he talks about his rough childhood. I’ve got my doubts. But not about Austin French. Whether he ever hits it big or not, I’ll always know that Austin is real because when it mattered the most, he said with Paul, “whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7).
Click here for more information regarding Austin and his band.