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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW | JEREMY RAGSDALE – WINNER OF X FACTOR ROMANIA 2017

With a sexy voice, a sexy look and a sexy attitude, the hugely talented American Jeremy Ragsdale has conquered an entire Romania, gaining the votes, the support of the audience and the admiration from all the mentors on X factor Romania, as well as the title of X Factor Romania 2017, being the first foreign winning this title.
Guided by Horia Brenciu, whose personality similarly resembles to his, Jeremy Ragsdale has proved that HE HAS GOT IT ALL! After winning X Factor, he released his first single, “I used to love you“, composed together with the Romanian Silviu Mindroc, a song with a super fresh sound.
Star Gossip Team has taken a super complex interview to Jeremy Ragsdale that we are sure you will truly ENJOY!

Hello Jeremy, and welcome to our online magazine! How are you feeling now, after a long fight for winning X Factor 2017 Romania? What are your general impressions about Romania?

Thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions! I’m excited to finally talk about my reflections on the show. It’s been three weeks since OUR win – not just mine! I just got better from an illness that lasted 3 weeks. I’m kinda glad that I got sick, though. It gave me some time to slow down, and reflect on everything that’s happened.
DID I ACTUALLY WIN X FACTOR ROMANIA? OR WAS IT A DREAM THAT I JUST WOKE UP FROM? AHHH!!!
The first time I came to Romania was last year in April, only 8 short months ago. Back then, all I wanted was a handful of friends. A group of pen pals, with whom I could continue to learn your language. Friends who I could drink coffee or a few beers with. I didn’t realize that everyone I met in Romania would feel like my family. That first time that I arrived in April, I met people who were honest — not just “friendly”.
In my adult life, the most important trait which defines who I consider my BEST friend, is their willingness to tell me the truth, without filtering anything. Even if they know that I might be too stubborn to immediately agree with what they have to say. This is a trait that I’ve seen in 100% of Romanians. It is beautiful. I feel like I’m home with family, even when I’m interacting with a complete stranger.
Oh, and the women are insanely beautiful. All of them. Wow.

Which was your biggest challenge in this show and how did you manage to overcome it?

My biggest challenge during X Factor was the realization that because of how the contest is structured, my presence could cause another contestant to be eliminated. I think I was in denial about that part – and I was absolutely certain that I wouldn’t actually go far.
Let me be very clear: I did not come to Romania to take someone else’s opportunities away. This was a huge emotional and existential problem for me. I had many beautiful conversations with my fellow contestants during Boot Camp and the Finals. We spoke not only about music, but also about our philosophies on life, which varied because a lot of us came from different areas of the world. I quickly felt close to them.
I overcame this problem by deciding that if I continued farther than others, that I would sing in their honor. I would represent something good, something unifying, in their honor. I would focus on my generosity, and my genuine curiosity about them. I would actively learn from them, and be open and excited for opportunities to teach them what I knew. It’s the only way I could imagine, that would make it possible to look myself in the mirror with pride. To know, for a fact, that I did the right thing, in the face of an extremely difficult social situation.

How did you feel about having Horia Brenciu as your mentor? Were there still things that he could musically teach you?

For this answer, I’ll start by copying my Facebook post about him, which I posted the night before the final performance:

22 Dec: Horia Brenciu is a beautiful human being. I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to meet not only Horia, but his lovely wife and adorable children. Today, he and his family invited me to their home, to help decorate their Christmas tree!!!
This is a very successful man who knows a million people, and is beloved by all of them. He has no reason to think twice about me. And yet, during the last two months, he has spent a superhuman amount of time and energy on me and my progress, both personally and musically.
Horia, as far as “the job” is concerned, you are my mentor on this show. But you have gone far beyond your job requirements, and have willingly and passionately taught me about Romanian life and culture. That is the most powerful gesture of FRIENDSHIP that I could ever imagine. I am friends with a superhero!!!
Whatever happens tomorrow, my prize has already been won. I have an incredible family here, which has gone far deeper than the surface of my appreciation.

My favorite things Horia taught me:

How to be a better man. Not just a better Romanian man.
– That I can accomplish amazing things, if my heart is in the right place.
– How to look into the camera, and see someone’s soul while also showing them your own (which requires superhuman compassion and absolutely ZERO fear).
– Romanian history, language, music, culture, and customs.
– How to balance personal life, with public life.
– about 1000 other things, that would take way too long to list.

I love this man. I’m a much better person because I know him. I bet there are thousands and thousands of others who can say the same thing. #teamhoria

How were your relationships with the other contestants? Can there be real friends in this kind of competitions?

At the same time as I am typing up this answer, I’m currently Skype-ing with Anton, from X Factor! We’re catching up, and brainstorming about fun ways for us all to perform together, and somehow continue to stay involved in each others’ lives and music. We’re bouncing around like children on Christmas! So yes, there can absolutely be real friends in these types of competitions.
I believe that it is right to celebrate our differences, as well as our similarities.
I believe that contestants, who are competing against each other, should be great friends. They should respect and love each other, regardless of what situation they are put in.
I believe that we, as humans, should strive together for greatness, in order to celebrate the simple fact that WE HAVE THE FREEDOM AND POWER TO. In simpler terms: We should, because we can.
X Factor Romania is obviously an amazing public opportunity for us, but business-wise, X Factor Romania is a television program, dependent on successful ratings to stay on the air. That fact forces ALL of us (the contestants, the producers, the viewing public, everybody) to challenge our own beliefs about competition and goodwill. It takes a lot of inner strength and patience for people to be themselves, unapologetically and honestly, in front of cameras. In general, I notice that most people are terrified of appearing weak and imperfect in public.
By the way — I bet it is incredibly difficult for the production team to maintain their integrity, and avoid cheap reality-show drama to get easy ratings. I am grateful for the beautiful and thoughtful ways in which we were portrayed on the show. There are some very brilliant people working behind the scenes at X Factor, and Antena 1, and I learned a lot from observing the great work they do.
(I know you didn’t ask me about the production team, but I wanted to make sure I was on record, saying that.)

(4b) Which one of them would you have seen as winner at the beginning?

The first time I saw Teodora Sava’s episode, I was with my family, watching X Factor at home. I looked at them, and said, “She’s totally gonna win this. I can’t wait to have a jam session with her!” I still can’t wait for our next opportunity to sing together!

Tell us a bit about your first song released, “I Used to Love You”. What inspired you to compose it, and how much did you find in its message?

On my first day in Romania, I knew zero people in the country. Zero.
On my second day in Romania, I went to “TUNES Pub” in Centrul Vechi, and sang karaoke. I made about 20 friends that night who, today, are still my best friends in Romania.
On my third day in Romania, some of my new friends took me to a recording studio, and I met Silviu Mîndroc, one of the most talented producers I’ve ever seen in action. Within an hour of shaking hands, we wrote “I Used To Love You”.
He started the track from scratch, and we agreed on the chords. I improvised my lyrics and vocals with a little scatting at first. After we agreed that that “sound” of the piece was what we both wanted, he said “alright, give me a few minutes to put this beat together. 30 minutes later, we returned. Silviu composed a masterpiece around my voice. IN THIRTY MINUTES.

How was your life in Washington before X Factor Romania?

My life in Annapolis, Maryland (close to Washington DC) has always been pretty calm. Besides playing piano at a restaurant in Washington DC, I used to own a tiny retail space, called Jeremy Ragsdale Voice Studio (JRVS). I taught private voice lessons, recorded singers, coached A Cappella groups, and I produced about 8-10 seasons of a class, called “The Lead Singer”, which prepared 8-12 teenagers for a live public performance in festivals and clubs.
I loved what we accomplished at JRVS, but I wanted to do more with my own music, so that I could have a more unique and valuable perspective when I teach in the future. That’s one of the main reasons I decided to start learning a new language, travel more often. Obviously, I’m super happy that I made THAT decision!

Which are the main differences you feel as an American artist compared to our music industry?

I’m not sure if I’m qualified to answer this, quite yet. Give me a few more months, so I can experience more about the structure of the music industry in Romania. I love what I’ve seen so far, and I’m extremely excited to be a part of it, moving forward. The sky seems to be the limit!

What are your plans for the future? How much do you feel that X Factor will help you abroad? How much do you intend to remain in Romania?

I haven’t really thought much about how my X Factor Romania experience will help me in the United States, except for the fact that I’ve been channeling my inner Horia Brenciu while performing here this month!
I have a strong feeling that 2018 is going to be a very Romanian year for me. In fact, I’ll be making my first visit to Romania in only a couple weeks! I will arrive on 28 ianuarie, and stay for two weeks. I would like to finally see the other major cities in Romania – something I’ve been wanting to do for months now.
I hope that this particular trip will answer the burning question in my mind: “What will happen now?” I hope the answer is “O gramada”.

How is Jeremy Ragsdale, the man behind the stage? What makes you happy?

When I’m not performing or teaching, I love going out and being social – but there’s usually music involved. I thrive on personal interaction, which probably explains my demeanor when I’m on stage!
I also enjoy staying in bed, and watching nerdy things on Netflix, like documentaries about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies (I have some Bitcoin and Litecoin). I love funny movies and TV shows! I love to laugh as often as possible. Life’s short!
The following things make me happy. Movie: Coming to America
TV Show: Family Guy
Food: Sushi….wait, no! Mici! Sarmale!
Cookie: Oatmeal Raisin
Pizza Toppings: Pepperoni, with extra tomato sauce Comfort Food: Fried Chicken
Cake: German Chocolate (with a glass of Riesling) Starbucks: Caramel Macchiato
Animal: Dogs Hobby: Bitcoin
Bar: TUNES Pub (Centrul Vechi)

How should the perfect female look or be for you?

Annnntonia. Next question.

What artists from Romania do you admire the most and with which one of them would you like to sing in a concert? Will you plan having concerts in Romania as well?

Horia Brenciu, all day, every day! My most important friend and Romanian professor!
Delia. You said you want to drink mojitos with me, and have a jam session. I’m waiting for my invite! Bring your husband so we can talk about Bitcoin, too. ?o Pe WhatsApp!!
Carla’s Dreams. I want to get my face and head painted, look badass like them, and maybe pick up some bad Moldovan words! I loved meeting the entire band backstage in December. We had a great talk about music and Romania. Do you guys need another keyboardist??
Stefan Banica Jr. You have an amazing voice, killer piano and guitar chops, and you gave me some amazing input throughout the competition. It would be an honor to sing with you!
I’d also like to sing with any of my talented friends and fellow contestants from the X Factor finals, who I was lucky enough to sing with for 7 beautiful weeks! I miss you all like crazy!
Liviu Teodorescu is awesome, and I’d love to sing with him. I’ve always loved his music, and I was thrilled to meet him in December. I appreciated how warm and friendly he was…especially since he wasn’t my duet partner! He and Francesca were excellent on that Nirvana song at the finals – he was really paying attention up there. I think Liviu and I would have a fun and very interesting collaboration.
And last, but not least, FELI! I got to meet her when we performed with Horia at Sala Palatului. I really love her voice, music and energy on and off the stage. I think I would learn a lot from her, if we could perform together.

Which song you feel that expresses the best your life by far?

The next song that I write!

What message do you want to share to all your Romanian admirers and to our Star Gossip Magazine readers?

(I owe you all much more than a simple “thank you” message. Here’s a story that I think is interesting, which I never tell anyone.)
Era doar acum zece luni, cand am inceput sa invat limba romana.
I laugh when I think back to the exact moment that I decided to do it. I knew your language held onto the most Latin, but that was the only logic involved. This decision was emotional — and it came out of nowhere.
I was happy enough, teaching music in my little retail space in Annapolis. I was happy enough, singing for people while they eat their steaks in Washington DC. I was happy…and bored. I needed to do something interesting and unique. I immediately downloaded the Pimsleur Method’s 30 audio lessons in limba român?.
I learned my first words: “Buna ziua!”
It only took two words. Something sparked in me, that I’d never felt before. I was going to see the world!! I had it all planned out: I would fly to Romania, and make a couple of Romanian friends.
We would sit together at a café, drinking coffee and laughing, saying nothing but “buna ziua”, over and over again! I obviously had no idea how difficult romana is. But I felt real passion, for the first time in years. I was alive again.
I found myself spending at least 1, sometimes 2 hours a day, practicing my new language. I practiced to the Pimsleur Method in the shower, driving in my car, during my breaks at work. My friends and family regularly found me rehearsing phrases like:
“Scuzati-ma, domnisoara.” “O bere, doua beri.”
“O fata…fata…doua fete…fetele.”
After a month, people started commenting on how quickly I seemed to be learning român?, even though they had no idea what I was saying. But that was all I needed to hear, to book my first plane ticket to Bucuresti. I was going to spend my 35th birthday in Bucuresti, Romania – 4500 miles from home.
Two weeks before my trip, I started practicing român? 3-4 hours a day:
“As dori sa cumpar ceva pentru familia mea, va rog.” “Ati dori sa luati pranzul cu mine, domnisoara?”
“Imi pare rau domnule…nu pot. La ora 8 este mult mai tarziu.”
I was so nervous on the morning of my flight, that I was nauseous. I almost didn’t go to the airport. I repeat…I ALMOST DIDN’T GO TO THE AIRPORT.
My thoughts were all over the place:
“I don’t know anyone. I’ll be alone there.” “What if something bad happens?”
“What if I don’t know enough romana” “What if I forget everything I learned?”
Then – magically – I felt that spark again. I thought back to all of the times I let my fears control me. And I went to the airport, without looking back.
I did a hell of a lot more than sit at a café, saying “buna ziua”…and I have every single one of you to thank for that.

From the bottom of my heart, and the hearts of my entire family…thank you.

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