As southern rock and country singer Warren Peay advanced week after week on season 21 of “American Idol,” the Top 8 finalist says there were many days he just wanted to “hide out in the hotel room.” Not because the Bamburg, South Carolina, singer hated the experience, but because adjusting to life in Hollywood, amid the bright lights and constant activity, was overwhelming at times. In a new interview, he said now that he’s back home, he’s adjusting to his new life once again, realizing that he can now actually make a living as a musician.
“I really felt blessed to be able to make it as far as I did,” he told The Times and Democrat on July 13, 2023. “Just to have that experience, that kind of told me that a music career would be possible for me.”
The 24-year-old’s life has changed a lot since being on “American Idol,” as he launches his music career and plans a wedding. Here’s what you need to know:
Before auditioning for the “American Idol” judges in the fall of 2022, performing his rendition of Zach Williams‘ 2016 song “To the Table,” Peay was an appliance repair man. He also used to be the lead singer of a Christian band, Colston Branch, according to American Songwriter, which released a self-titled debut album in 2019 before Peay decided to try his hand at a solo career.
But making it onto “Idol,” he told the Times and Democrat, stretched and challenged him in ways he never imagined.
“I think definitely some of that was kind of getting out of my comfort zone a little bit with the songs. I mean I had to really perform. Honestly, some of the travel and the adjustments to where we were at was a bit of a challenge for me because I kind of felt like I just wanted to hide out in the hotel room the whole time,” Peay said.
“Then after a while, it got to where I was like, ‘You know, I want to go see some stuff. I’ll probably never come back here. Let me go take a look around,’” he continued. “The culture shock was the big thing for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed the competition, every single part of it.”
Peay added that he experienced and learned many things that didn’t make it on the show.
He said, “There’s just so many different things that you learn and go through that teaches you about the industry. Not just music, but about film, as well, and how they shoot television shows. I mean, that’s a whole new world for me.”
He said, “I still look at it sometimes and get like ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and you’re like, ‘You know, none of this happened. That wasn’t me.’ You know? And then I go back and watch it.”
What’s Next for Warren Peay?
Since returning to South Carolina, Peay told The Times and Democrat, he hasn’t had to return to his appliance repair technician job and is focusing on music full-time. Some of the musicians from his old band have joined him to create what’s now called the Warren Peay Band.
“As far as everything goes right now, we’ve got the band back together a little bit,” he said. “We’ve been practicing, we’ve been writing some new material, things like that, trying to see about getting into a studio to do some recording and booking shows wherever we can.”
He continued, “We’re taking everything we can get. We take it in stride, and we’re growing. This is a fresh start for everybody that was in the band, and now we’re doing things a little differently. We’re still keeping our morals where they always were and making sure that we’re doing things right.”
On June 29, he was invited to perform with contemporary Christian artist Zach Williams — the artist whose song got Peay through his initial audition.
In an Instagram post about the experience, Peay wrote, “Still in shock over this performance at the legendary Beacon Theatre in NYC! Huge thank you to @zachwilliamsmusic for inviting me to open and perform with such an amazing group! Can’t wait to do it again sometime! God is good!”
Peay also has a wedding to plan, after getting engaged in late March to his longtime girlfriend Sarah. In an Instagram post on April 5, she wrote, “Happy 9 year anniversary Warren!
I’m so excited to announce we got engaged last Saturday! 💍💍 I love you and I’m so excited to finally call you my fiancé and to start planning a wedding! #twopeaysinapod”