DeAndre...What can be said about this incredibly talented, multi-faceted star who is fearlessly and unashamedly one of the most down-to-earth individuals we have ever come across. “Unforgettable” is the only word that comes to mind while interviewing the “Top 8 American Idol” contestant DeAndre Brackensick.
With a voice that reaches into your soul and takes you on a ride to the heavens, we were excited to connect with DeAndre to bring his story to light. A San Jose, California native, little DeAndre was born on October 21, 1994 to parents Scot and Dawn Brackensick.
“We lived in a home with my father’s best friend and his family who were from Wahiawa on Oahu, Hawaii. There were so many of us, but we were their hanai (adopted) family and that was my connection to Hawaii.”
DeAndre grew up with a white father, a black mother and a love for the local culture. This is where DeAndre developed his first interest in hula. A form of dance originated and performed by Hawaiian natives that is used to tell stories about their culture.
“My grandmother actually found a little performance group in California called Pumehana O’Hula. They were actually former PCC ‘Polynesian Cultural Center’ dancers [a tourist attraction in Hawaii] who moved to California and started their own halau (huIa school). I started dancing with them when I was 10 years old and I competed in three different Merrie Monarch competitions.” The Merrie Monarch is a week long hula festival that honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua’s vision for the perpetuation of Hawaiian traditions, language and arts.
Accompanied with his passion for dance, DeAndre found a love for traditional Hawaiian music. Growing up in a neighborhood in which, wearing the wrong color could be a life or death decision, DeAndre didn’t have much room for sharing his talent. Instead, he found commonality and connection through sports. But what about his music? How did he get into the industry and when did it begin?
Although he was brought up in a household with athletes versus singers and musicians, DeAndre had always harbored a passion for music. It was a talent his mother had recognized, and it was she who “made” DeAndre audition for American Idol.
“I was actually really nervous because until then, I never sang in English, only in Hawaiian! American Idol was a humbling experience and it was definitely a foreign one as well. I've never been around that many singers before and I felt like I had finally found my tribe and where I belonged. It was refreshing, not discrediting friends from before, but it was just nice to feel like I didn't have to suppress something that I love anymore. Of course, another reason I was so nervous was because I came from a place where I was the only singer, but now I was surrounded by so many other talented artists with incredible voices. People really don’t realize that there are hundreds of thousands of gifted people that no one knows about yet. You just never know, and I felt honored to be surrounded by such gifted individuals.”
During his first season of American Idol, DeAndre made it to the “Top 40”.
“In truth, I didn't know how to use my voice yet because I was used to singing Hawaiian music. I was familiar with blunt criticism, but my inability to understand how to tap into certain parts of my voice wasn’t something I knew how to fix. It was a long and nice experience, but it was my second year of Idol where I really had fun. This time, I knew what to expect and I didn't have to be so sensitive about it. I went in not caring about the pressure, or whether or not I would win, and decided I’d focus on enjoying the experience and going on tour instead!”
DeAndre found himself in the “Top 8” that year and went on tour to 48 cities around the U.S., one in Canada and two in the Philippines.
After American Idol, his new level of celebrity took some getting used to.
“I’m an introvert and I really love my time alone. I’m not much for going out or really socializing except for when I’m with the very few true friends that I have. It’s just never really been my style to seek a lot of attention and it was hard to get used to having people stop me for pictures or just to talk. Like, I’d be having lunch with my dad and my sister who I hadn’t seen in a year, and I just wanted to be with them, but we would often be interrupted for things like that. Also, it was very difficult to deal with different media outlets delving into my personal relationships and business.
After his stint with idol, DeAndre signed with a label that was geared more towards pop music, but it wasn’t quite the fit he had been looking for. So, he left the label a year later and decided to go to college and study education. Determined not to put himself into debt, DeAndre took on three jobs to pay off his tuition while going to school. But soon after, he would find himself back on the path to music.
“With my three jobs and going to school, I started to burn out. Then one night, I fell asleep behind the wheel of the car and got into a horrible accident. My car was totaled and I realized that this just wasn’t working out for me. So, I decided to leave school, to quit two of my three jobs, and to hang on to my other job singing at luau shows. I actually auditioned to be a hula dancer for the show, but when they told me I had to take off my shirt, I was like, ‘Oh how about I just sing?’” we laughed as he recalled that moment.
With a new drive and focus, DeAndre found that he was happier, but at the age of 22, he started to ask himself if he’d just settled for the way things were in his life. He had a steady job, which he was able to sing at, but with the routine of singing the same songs every night, watching the same dances and hearing the same jokes, DeAndre became bored. And eventually, he found himself stuck in a state of depression, wanting more in life, and needing...change.
“One night I was having a heart-to-heart with one of my closest friends, singer/songwriter Izik, and I was telling him about an album I was working on. Then he asked me a question that really changed the game for me. He said, ‘Why are you doing it here [in Hawaii]? Are you doing it here out of convenience? Or are you doing it here because this is where you want to record it?’ I told him, it’s convenient because I sing R&B and we all know that Hawaii isn’t really open to genres outside of Hawaiian, Jawaiian or Reggae.”
DeAndre’s conversation with Izik was just the thing he needed to figure out his next steps, which was to pack up his things and head to Melbourne, Australia.
“I didn’t know but one person there, but I made the move anyway and it was the best decision I ever made. That’s where I started to record my new album, ‘Black Denim’ and it allowed me to have and experience something new.”
This two year project would be a turning point in DeAndre’s career as it opened the door for a job as a back-up singer for “The Voice'' in Australia, as well as an opportunity for him to really start learning about himself as an artist. After the release of his album, which hit the Top 25 on the R&B Billboard Charts, DeAndre decided to promote his album with a tour! Inviting some of his closest friends to join him, DeAndre organized and personally funded a tour at a variety of incredible venues and festivals. They played at the Blue Note Hawaii, the Rum Festival in Florida opening for Jazmine Sullivan, Rockwood Music Hall in New York, sold out two shows at Art Boutiki in San Jose, California, sold out two shows in London at Pizza Express Live and played at Yoshi’s in Oakland, a personal favorite that DeAndre frequented growing up.
“It was really hard because I had to pay for everything, and even had to sleep in my car for awhile because I couldn’t afford to pay rent, but I did it! When I think back on everything that I’ve done and accomplished, I am so proud of myself because I did all those things on my own.”
All of DeAndre’s hardwork and effort has truly paid off for him, as iconic R&B, hip-hop singer Ciara, has recently signed him to her label, Beauty Marks Entertainment. Her husband, American football quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, Russell Wilson has also signed DeAndre to his management company, West to East Empire. New and exciting experiences lie ahead for DeAndre Brackensick and we are really excited to see where his journey takes him!
Photo Credit: JRoc
Outside of musical greatness, DeAndre is just a down to earth, hilarious and incredible human being! We shared a lot of laughs as DeAndre opened up about his personal likes, dislikes, pet peeves and embarrassing moments!
DeAndre is literally the first person we’ve met who doesn’t really have an inkling for ice cream! So we asked, “Wait a minute, you don’t like ice cream? Or you just don’t like sugary things in general?” His response sent us rolling over with laughter!
“Wait, do I not like sugar? What? Oh no!!! I love sugar! I would rub it on my gums all day if I could. I just don’t really care for ice cream, but I will have some every now and then.”
Too funny! But while DeAndre isn’t a fan of cold melting goodness, he does claim to be an avid LOVER of all things pastries and cookies! Tolstoy cookies to be exact! And although he may not be the best cook, he sure knows his way around making a deliciously savory peanut butter cookie! And if this talk of tasty treats hasn’t hinted at it yet, this talented songbird’s favorite pastime is eating!
“What do I love to do in my free time? Eat girl! I love to eat and if I had to choose a favorite pastime, that’s what it would be!”
To top it all off, DeAndre openly shared a few hilarious stories with us about his personal pet peeves and embarrassing moments! Like the fact that he hates the “F” word...Well who doesn’t right? But it’s not the “F” bomb you’re thinking about. It’s the word, “F.A.R.T.” LOL! That’s right, one of the most disgusting, cringe worthy words that he absolutely abhors is FART! We cried laughing so hard at this answer, which we would never have expected.
“I know my pet peeves are totally ridiculous and completely random, but I just can’t help it!” says Brackensick.
Or let’s talk about the time that DeAndre was dancing hula at a Mormon church for a Siva (celebration) and his malo (Hawaiian loincloth) fell off in the middle of his dance. Definitely a moment he will never forget, but DeAndre is just one of those individuals who embraces all of life’s funniest moments!
This is just another reason that WE, at FAME Magazine, LOVE DeAndre Brackensick! He is kind, humble and talented with a heart of gold! We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know this hilariously witty and gifted young man, and invite you to follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/deandre408/?hl=en
If you are in the neighborhood, make sure you go to his upcoming shows as well, for music you won’t want to miss! Get your tickets before they sell out at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/homecoming-starring-deandre-brackensick-tickets-89307267441?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
See DeAndre live at:
April 25, 2020 - Sola Rum Festival - Opening for Musiq Soulchild in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
March 8, 2020 - Dingwalls, London - 8pm
March 21, 2020 - Fuego Sports Bar and Club in Sunnyvale, California - 9PM