Floridian aspires to be Jewish 'Idol'
Jewish pop music fans may have a new "American Idol" to follow Adam Lambert: Jonathan Stone. The 25-year-old human beatbox artist from New York auditioned in July for the popular TV singing competition, whose ninth season premiers January 20 in the U.S. and a few days later in Israel.
He is not allowed to disclose whether the judges liked his beatbox version of The Beatles' "Come Together" and singing rendition of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine" enough to send him to Hollywood, where 150 singers compete for a much-coveted recording contract. But, Stone is seen trying out in Orlando in a trailer for the upcoming season, suggesting that his audition will be among those shown.
The flamboyant Lambert, last season's runner-up, made waves among Jewish "Idol" fans when they learned he occasionally performed at Jewish events. Recently, Lambert grabbed headlines less for his Jewishness than for his "pushing the envelope about sexuality," as he called it, referring to a performance during which he kissed a male keyboardist and grabbed the crotch of a dancer.
Stone, on the other hand, says he is all about Jews and Israel - and adds it is a "true shame" Lambert chose not emphasize his Judaism on the show. "It's always a difficult debate among people whether or not they want to be vocal about their Judaism," Stone said this week during a visit in Jerusalem. "If asked what I'm interested and passionate about - I wouldn't even be lying, Israel is one of my biggest passions and certainly something I intend to be extremely vocal about."
Taglit Birthright-Israel changed his life in 2007, the MBA student said. The free 10-day trip to Israel led him to become actively involved in several pro-Israel advocacy projects. "I was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah but I had little connection to my people," Stone told Anglo File. "My Birthright trip just drove the message home of how critical it is for Jews to really maintain a strong bond to Israel, to the Jewish people, to the Jewish religion in general."
After the trip the Miami native contemplated moving to Israel. Deciding he could have a bigger impact in the "Israel advocacy arena" from America, he indefinitely postponed the move. "But it is absolutely a dream of mine to some day make aliyah," he adds.
Stone says he wants to raise awareness for Israel's positions in the Middle East conflict and advance the peace process. "If I were somehow able to turn [any future position of prominence in the music business] into a vehicle to work toward peace... that would be a dream come true," he said.
It remains to be seen whether Stone, who sports a neatly shaven beard and rimmed Armani glasses, can advance in a competition mainly about contestant's singing skills. Stone admits he's more a beatbox artist than a singer. "People think a voice can only sing but with beatboxing," he says. "I show that it can sound like a guitar, a DJ's turntable or a drum kit."