See 'American Idol' Alum Casey Abrams Explore Ethiopia on 'First Time Africa'
American Idol season 10 alum Casey Abrams’ pilgrimage to Ethiopia is set to debut Friday night (June 24) on the Africa Channel as part of the First Time Africa series.
Abrams was invited by his old high school friend Sean Stromsoe, who was journeying to the country to film a project for Ethiopia Skate, a nonprofit dedicated to raise money to purchase skateboards for Ethiopian children. “He was filming kids and helping out with getting kids on the streets skateboards,” he said.
Stromsoe and Abrams met when they were both students at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California. Abrams was in the jazz program and Stromsoe studied film. Stromsoe got in touch with Abrams and asked him to fly out and meet him in Ethiopia and check out the “cool music scene.”
Abrams had just gotten out of his label deal with Concord Records and had some time on his hands, so he hopped on a plane and arrived in Africa on Jan. 3, 2014. The journey, he said, was not only spiritual but educational, as the musician made it his mission to “explore the musical realm.”
From the second Abrams touched down at the airport, Stromsoe was there to film his arrival. The cameras kept rolling, and a documentary was born.
"Sean had done a couple of things for the Africa Channel in the past, and they have a show where people explore Africa for the first time," he said. "We just took the footage, edited it and made a story out of it."
Being so far away from home in a country with limited Internet access meant the locals had no idea who the musician was, as most hadn’t seen American Idol. “I think I went to a club only one time and one person recognized me, and she was from Nigeria,” he said.
Still, Abrams persisted in his mission to expand his musical horizons and quickly found success. “I went to random clubs and asked people, ‘Hey, can I sit in?’” he said. “Sometimes they said no, but most times they said yes.”
As a result, Abrams extended his trip through Feb. 15, when he was invited to participate in a music festival. “I got invited to do this festival, which was Feb. 10, so I decided to stay,” he said. “I went there to pursue something with music, and that was a perfect opportunity.”
Another bonus: the Idol’s birthday is Feb. 12. “I spent my birthday in Africa, so that was really awesome,” he said.
The 25-year-old troubadour's hunger to explore new musical horizons is continuing through his travels touring with PostModern Jukebox and “wandering around L.A., sitting in and playing with my bass, getting my bass skills up,” he said.
Later this year, he is planning to record a live show in Los Angeles, as well as gathering an “orchestra of people” to “sit around a campfire and sing one of my songs.”
“Just fun times,” he said.
Watch a preview of the episode above.