QUILCENE — A Sequim High School graduate now living in Quilcene is making sound waves on the airwaves with his unique vocal styles.
Kalan Wolfe, a 29-year-old singer-songwriter, has been playing across the North Olympic Peninsula for a few years now, and the father of seven is now a featured contestant on ABC’s “American Idol.”
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Wolfe said.
“Honestly, I was really surprised. All along the way from the very beginning, people who work for ‘American Idol’ are just great people. Super kind, easy to talk to.”
Wolfe was one of hundreds of people to audition in Bellevue last summer and one of tens of thousands of people across the country seeking their shot at stardom.
Wolfe said he barely got into the audition, since the age cutoff was 28 and his birthday was within a month of the deadline.
“I had people telling me left and right to sign up,” he said. “I was real skeptical at first, but my wife signed me up and I thought, ‘This is going to be fun; an adventure. I might meet some influential people and get my name out there.’ ”
Once at the audition, he told the Bellevue judge he would play “House of the Rising Sun.”
“She told me she hears that all the time and asked me to play something else,” Wolfe said.
“I told her, ‘I don’t think you’ve ever heard it like this.’ She said I was right.”
Wolfe advances to Hollywood Week, according to a spokesperson for the show.
The show airs at 8 p.m. Sundays and Mondays on KOMO-4 in Western Washington with judges Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.
Wolfe said he spent his high school years, 2004-08, living in Sequim and found an early calling at open mic nights at The Buzz, a former coffee shop on Sequim Avenue.
“Those were good times,” he said. “It was influential to play in front of an audience, even if it was small. Those were my people.”
He also played stand-up bass and cowbell in Sequim High School’s bands.
Wolfe feels his time in Sequim helped spawn his musical career along with his family’s musical roots.
“We all sang growing up,” he said.
For shows nowadays, Wolfe tends to play with his grandfather Trevor Gloor on cajón (percussion) with occasional backup singing from his sister, Olivia, his wife, Keely, and his 9-year-old stepdaughter, Ember.
After Sequim, Wolfe continued playing, including time in the Barefoot Brothers Band, out of the Bellingham area.
He’s remarried and along with raising seven children between his wife and himself, he’s worked a variety of jobs, from lifeguarding to landscaping, but music is what he wants to focus on.
“I’m doing just music right now,” he said. “I’m trying to make a go of it. Last weekend, I played three shows in 24 hours.”
That includes shows across the Peninsula, including monthly stints at Sirens in Port Townsend and Wind Rose Cellars in Sequim. He next plays in Sequim at 7 p.m. Friday at Wind Rose Cellars, 143 W. Washington St.
Wolfe’s style, he said, is called “Driven Medicine Music” that looks to provide uplifting and hopeful messages.
“It’s really a big part of why I’m interested in ‘American Idol’ and having something that’s a little different,” he said. “I’m really about bringing music that hopefully leads to making positive change in their life and thinking about the world we’re living in and offering some solutions.”
One example is “Man Song” from his newest album, “Magic and Gravity,” released in January. He encourages men to be stronger examples and more respectful of the people around them.
Looking ahead, as “American Idol” continues to reveal his fate, Wolfe plans to keep playing and is considering a West Coast summer tour.
He plans to play events like the fall and spring Barter Faire in Tonasket, ShrimpFest in Brinnon, Moon Fest in Quilcene and Sequim Lavender Festival.
For more information on Wolfe, visit www.kalan wolfe.com.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected].