EUDORA, Kan. - American Idol fans now have a local contestant to root for in this season of the show. Jason "Wolf" Hamlin appeared on the reality singing show Sunday.
Hamlin's childhood friend Tyler Cleveland said his best friend grew up in Eudora and went to high school there also. Cleveland said he left after that to Phoenix, Ariz. to be a mechanic and then recently moved to Livermore, Calif. to work at a golf course. Hamlin auditioned in San Diego, Calif.
Cleveland said he knew about Hamlin's audition for a while now, but his relatives on the other hand, had no clue until a few days ago.
"I know that he loves to sing and has sang all his life, so it didn't surprise me at all that he would do that," said Tracy Trefz.
Hamlin's aunt said the 24-year-old with a deep and commanding voice, sings for a much smaller crowd when he comes back to visit. Trefz owns Cutter's Smokehouse and said Hamlin would entertain the crowd there on a small corner stage.
Hamlin's grandmother, Nell Trefz, said music runs in the family. She said Hamlin's mother, who lives in Colorado, sang growing up, and his father built guitars. His father built the one Hamlin uses now.
"We sing a lot. we've always sung a lot so I take credit for the singing, he can take credit for everything else," Nell Trefz said.
That includes his latest song "Long Road," where Hamlin writes, plays the guitar, and sings himself. The five-minute song is about his life journey from growing up in the small town, his parent's separation, the death of his father in 2010, to finding love and moving away.
Hamlin's family and friends say even with the potential of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, he will not forget where he grew up and took the stage first.
"There's talent here and like him, you just got to follow your dreams," said Cleveland.
Hamlin got three "yes'" from the American Idol judges. He now heads to the next round in Hollywood.