EWING, Ill. - Mark Holman admittedly has things to overcome - struggling as a musician stuck in tiny Ewing, Ill. (pop. 350) being one of them. So, what does a songwriter do? He writes a song about it. And his most recent composition, aptly titled "Overcome," could change his life forever.
Holman's song "Overcome" has reached the Top 20 among tens of thousands of entries in the American Idol Songwriter's Contest. Last year the songwriting contest received around 25,000 submissions in its debut as a feature of the televised, live singing showdown on Fox. The song that wins will be performed live by the two final contestants and the winner will sing it during the closing moments of the Idol finale.
To vote in the songwriting competition, one may visit American Idol online at www.americanidol.com, click on the "Show Guide" tab and select "American Idol Songwriter." The last day to vote is April 23 and one only needs a personal email to participate. The song with the best rating on a 1-10 scale (10 stars being the best) will win.
Written expressly for the American Idol Songwriter's Contest during the week before the contest entry deadline hit, "Overcome" is about "looking inside yourself and finding the strength within rather than focusing on everything else going on around you," the 23-year-old Holman explained.
He added that since the title "Overcome" is such a broad one, it appeals to all flavors of people from all walks of life.
"Everyone has their obstacles. Everyone can relate to "Overcome."
"It's surreal," he said of his song being chosen for the Top 20. "To have this kind of an opportunity ... it's a chance of a lifetime for me."
He is the son of Clay and Linda Holman of Ewing and brother to Justin, Steve and Brian. Mark graduated from Rend Lake College with an Associates Degree in Arts and Science in December and has since taken a part-time night job at the college while he works on his craft.
Although he considers the Top 20 to be a victory in itself, he still wants to win while he imagines "Overcome" being performed at the American Idol finale.
The 6-3, slender songwriter with rockishly long hair found his calling during his days at Benton Consolidated High School. He started out with a guitar and began experimenting with songwriting as a freshman. A lot of his inspiration came from watching his brother, Justin, practice and perform with bands.
"I sort of learned from him and watched him, watched the band, and really learned a lot more about songwriting," he revealed. "While watching them, I fell more in love with music and songwriting."
He played in bands "The Visual" and "Bluekarma" before really diving into sound engineering and recording.
"That is what really launched my desire to write music," he said of his time in the home studio. "Since then, I haven't stopped. I have been growing ever since and continuing to write new music and trying to get it out there."
And "get it out there" he has! TV's top-rated show was viewed by more than 33 million homes in its seventh-season premier in January and last year's songwriter competition had 25,000 entries. Moreover, with Idol's escalating popularity, one would assume there will be many more entries with more and more online visitors in this round, especially since last year's competition was the first.
"Overcome" features the one-man-band Holman on guitar, vocals and piano. He created the bass and drum lines using his sound engineering software. He also mixed the track himself.
Holman said his song should translate well for Idol contestants.
"I can only imagine, once they are put in that setting, how overwhelming and jostling the experience must be," he said. "Then, for the winner, there is that feeling at the end - they have made it all the way through and offered their blood sweat and tears and it is finally there ... the triumphant feeling ... they found the strength to make it through the journey ... they have finally done it ... they have finally overcome such a huge challenge."
"If I don't win?" he pondered. "The top 20 is still definitely a victory for me and hopefully this will open more doors. I'll just have to walk through them when I get there. But for now, I just hope the fans will go online and vote and I hope I win."
To request an interview with Holman, one may contact Nathan Wheeler in the RLC Marketing and Public Information Department at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1234, 618-316-1359, or by email at