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Casey Abrams talks frankly about his medical problems

Casey Abramas at an event sponsored by the Ga. chapter of Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead July 22, 2011. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Casey Abramas at an event sponsored by the Ga. chapter of Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead July 22, 2011. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Casey Abrams, who finished sixth this past season on “Idol,” found out in 2009 during his freshman year in college that he had ulcerative colitis, a chronic digestive inflammation that can be extremely painful and causes internal bleeding if left untreated. Flare ups happen, especially in times of stress.

In fact, he landed in the hospital twice during “Idol” because of it, almost forcing him to leave the show.

Although there is no cure, there are medications to relieve the symptoms. For a time prior to “Idol,” Abrams said he thought the condition would prevent him from becoming a full-time touring musician.

He recalled thinking, “I can’t do music anymore. This isn’t going to be fun. I’d be weak and have no energy.” But in the end, he added, “it gave me a reason to keep fighting [and try out for "Idol."]. It gave me more obstacles but it was a wake-up call. A voice in my head said, ‘You can’t stop!’ ”

Like Elliott Yamin and Crystal Bowersox with Type 1 diabetes and James Durbin with Asperger’s Syndrome and Tourette Syndrome, Abrams is leveraging his fame to build awareness of  his disease. In this case, 1.4 million people in the United States suffer from Abrams’  condition.

When the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America asked Abrams to help the group out, he agreed. He met with individuals who have the disease at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead Monday on an off day during the “Idols Live” tour. He and the other 10 contestants are going to be at Gwinnett Arena Tuesday evening for a sold-out stop.

He also promoted an IBD Icons contest, sponsored by the foundation and Janssen Biotech Inc. Anyone ages 18 and over tell stories about life with Crohn’s or colitis. The winners get flown to Las Vegas to see him perform live in December. To apply, go to www.IBDIcons.com and click on “call for entries” by August 26, 2011.

I also got to speak with Casey for a few minutes before the event. He talked mostly about his disease. Here’s the video, which I’d edit down a bit but can’t because I forgot to get Quicktime Pro installed on the computer. (I used to have access, but my computer had a virus a few weeks back and I forgot to have this program re-loaded on my computer.)

During his meeting with other people suffering from Crohn’s or UC, he answered some questions about life on “Idol.” He was asked about Haley Reinhart and their seemingly cushy relationship during the show. He said he had a crush on her, but they were not an item then and still aren’t an item now. (Too bad!)

He talked about the pressures on the show that fed into the flare ups. But producers were very understanding. They were told if he needed to run to the restroom, to just let him do it. If he needed to skip a rehearsal, let him. He attempted to reduce the flare ups by lying down and resting but that didn’t work. He needed meds.

He was also supposed to stay away from others because the therapies often reduce the immune system. But he always had a roomie. (Jordan Dorsey, a semifinalist, was one of his roommates and though he said Jordan was nice to him, he said he wasn’t always nice to others.) “I am now in a cramped bus, but it’s with people I love and adore,” he said. “They’re like my brothers now.”:

Abrams has to watch his diet, avoiding cheese and nuts, which irritate his intestines. For a time, he discovered Indian food, then found out it was too spicy.

When someone asked him what he enjoyed most about “Idol,” it was less about the performances in front of the camera but hanging out backstage watching the others sing, talking to the producers, joking around. “The tiny things in life is what I enjoy,” he said. “Making connections. That was fun. Being in the studio making songs. That was my favorite part.”

He said “Idol” also taught him to say no. Growing up, he said he’d always say yes to everything, even to his own detriment. “Saying no to [record producer and "Idol" mentor] Jimmy Iovine helped me out,” he said. “I had to say no to him a couple of times. Picking my battles relieves stress.”

Right now, he is still under contract with 19 Entertainment but I doubt they’ll sign him to any contracts. So once his 90 days after the “Idol” finale is up (about the time the tour is over), he’ll be able to build his team, create an album and even audition for an acting gig or two. Given his eclectic taste and penchant for jazz, it’s doubtful he’ll have a big mainstream career, but he certainly has the musical proficiency and likable personality to carve out a career in the business.

(L-R) Anita Hilliard of Lilburn with her daughter Lauren, 13, Casey Abrams and Lauren's friend Drake Marzo of Lawrenceville

(L-R) Anita Hilliard of Lilburn with her daughter Lauren, 13, Casey Abrams and Lauren's friend Drake Marzo of Lawrenceville

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47 comments Add your comment

JTesla

July 26th, 2011
1:34 am

Thanks Rodney. Hmm comments seem to be off. Oh well.

JTesla

July 26th, 2011
1:35 am

Well I guess not. Maybe I just can’t say “great information”.

[...] RSSMix.com Mix ID 1660970 [...]

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
7:30 am

Morning!

Good interview, Rodney. I always liked Casey a lot. He’s one of those real musicians that Idol gets every now and then. Obviously knows and loves music and it shows. At 19, dealing with Idol and a flare-up of his ulcerative colitis could not have been easy.

Woodpappy

July 26th, 2011
8:47 am

Hope he continues to do well in his career.

Sam-A

July 26th, 2011
9:09 am

Felt sorry for all the kid was going thru on Idol, but I didn’t like a thing he ever did. Not my kind of music or performance.

Mercedes S.

July 26th, 2011
10:27 am

Seems like a nice kid. As for career in showbiz… can see him as a studio musician. Steady job if you can get it. Acting – only of he shaves and tames his hair. We already have one Zach Galifi-whatever.

Thanks for interview, Rodney.

Mercedes S.

July 26th, 2011
10:28 am

That was lazy. Zach Galifianakis

Sam-A

July 26th, 2011
11:44 am

Mercedes: Saw a preview for “The War Horse”, which looked both wonderful and terribly sad. Please mention here if you see it. Suspect it’ll be another “hanky” movie – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

JTesla

July 26th, 2011
11:54 am

“The War Horse” hmm I hadn’t heard of that one. I’ll probably skip it as I don’t like movies that prominently feature animals. Because they are all sad. When I glanced at the info I didn’t see it, but did they cast Sarah Jessica Parker as the horse?

G

July 26th, 2011
12:00 pm

I was luke warm towards Casey early on, because he wasn’t a consistent vocalist. However, I should’ve realized he’s stronger as an overall musician. He grew to be one of my favorites, because of his vesatility. Casey was truly one of, if not THE most talented contestants on AI this past season. He definitely can’t be accused of being a “one-trick” pony.

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
12:01 pm

LOL on JSP line.

Sometimes I think you’re my long lost brother, JT. I cannot watch a sad animal movie and mostly, a movie with animals ends up bad for the animal at some point. I get misty if a favorite human character dies but I flat out cry if an animal bites the dust…or even comes close.

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
12:02 pm

oops…brain scrambled this afternoon…”SJP line”

Rickster

July 26th, 2011
12:09 pm

Sarah Jessica Parker walks into a bar. Bartender asks “Sarah, why the long face?” :-)

JTesla

July 26th, 2011
12:13 pm

Separated at birth!

Logic tells me that I should mourn the passing of people more than animals in movies, but logic cannot overcome some emotions. It takes a great act of heroism to get the same emotions as an animal’s passing, like the grandma in Dante’s Peak. Love the movie, but can’t watch that part.

I found that I cannot watch one odd thing: the surprise military homecoming stuff and I don’t know why. It’s happy, a member of the armed forces has returned home early and surprised their loved ones, and it makes me cry like a little baby. Heck, I’m tearing up just thinking about it, I’m like some crazy cat lady just without the cats.

Rickster

July 26th, 2011
12:20 pm

A priest, a rabbi & a bloned walk into a bar.

The bartender looks at them and asks, “Is this some kind of joke?”

Sam-A

July 26th, 2011
12:24 pm

Animal tragedy kills me too – I cry over commercials with dogs. “War Horse” seems like it’ll have a good ending, kind of “Lassie Come Home”. Looks wonderful. I didn’t want to see “Water for Elephants” because of the animal cruelty to a beautiful elephant, but oh, karma is soooo sweet! And wouldn’t have wanted to miss Hal Holbrook’s performance for anything (and who knows, it might be his last, sadly).

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
12:24 pm

Apparently “scrambled brain syndrome” is contagious.

Sam-A

July 26th, 2011
12:24 pm

What’s a “bloned”?

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
12:26 pm

I love Dante’s Peak, too. Disaster movies are my guilty pleasure(boy, I sure have a lot of guilty pleasures). Always cry at soldiers coming home. It’s so heart warming that my eyes start to sweat. ;-)

Rickster

July 26th, 2011
12:49 pm

A blonde that can’t spell! 8-O

Mercedes S.

July 26th, 2011
1:13 pm

“The War Horse” is right now a succesful play on Broadway, about horses in WWI. Spielberg involved with movie. Yes, tears will flow.

For women only: “Snowflower and the Secret Fan”, based on popular book. Chinese women suffering in two time periods, bound feet in old one, career problems in second, Male reviewers will hate it. I liked it.

Neg Haleysox

July 26th, 2011
1:16 pm

Of course Casey had a crush on Haley; she’s Haley F**KING Reinhart! That puts him in line with the rest of the world’s male population.

More on Haley’s new deal with Interscope: http://t.co/sHl4kFe

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
1:22 pm

How’re you doing, Neg? Aside from your serious Haley crush, we don’t hear much from you.

Neg Haleysox

July 26th, 2011
1:33 pm

Neg is good. Going through serious hockey/football withdrawal.

Mercedes S.

July 26th, 2011
1:41 pm

Elizabeth Hoffman, who played Grandma “Ruth” in “Dante’s Peak” was 70, when she played this great heroine.

I liked “Dante’s Peak” way better than the other volcano movie that year (1997), “Volcano”.

Just as I preferred “Deep Impact” to “Armageddon” in 1998.

And “The Arrival” (1996) was a way better movie than “Independence Day” that same year.

Mercedes S.

July 26th, 2011
1:43 pm

“Peak”, “Impact” and “Arrival” had special effects too, but “Volcano”, “Armageddon” and “I.D.” were mostly about explosions…

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
1:48 pm

Neg..just talked to Rodney…he has something you’ll like coming up soon. Might make up for the lack of football/hockey.

Neg Haleysox

July 26th, 2011
2:06 pm

Hope so, D… My Haley obsession needs to be fed!

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
2:09 pm

He is at Gwinnett arena right now doing press for tonight’s show.

Mercedes S.

July 26th, 2011
2:45 pm

Neg’s Haley obsession seems a bit unhealthy

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
2:49 pm

Adam fan, Haley fan, Clay fan, Archie fan…people get into it. At least he’s not obsessing over Crystal as much.

Rodney Ho

July 26th, 2011
3:48 pm

I ended up interviewing Lauren (again), Paul and James. No Haley. But I did take lots of photos of Haley at the Children’s Healthcare visit this morning. I will post soon. Lauren and Casey also came out and signed autographs with the fans who always hang out outside of the arena. Lauren is wearing four-inch wedges. Casey had been tweeted this story and came up to me to thank me for it. Classy guy!

Neg Haleysox

July 26th, 2011
3:54 pm

Rodney, no offense, but I’m betting Haley middle fingered your interview request because of how you bashed her during the show. Can’t say I blame her…

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
4:12 pm

Neg…the promoters decide who will do press before the show, the Idols take turns…apologize to Rodney….he got pictures for you so don’t p1ss him off.

Mercedes S.

July 26th, 2011
4:21 pm

How about Neg gets a private package of Haley pics so the blog space can be used for IMPORTANT comments??

Rickster

July 26th, 2011
4:26 pm

I agree, Mercedes.

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
4:27 pm

What’s wrong with Neg posting about Haley? I liked Haley, too.

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
4:29 pm

Chick-fil-a alert: On the front page of the ajc.com there’s a link to make a reservation to get a free half gallon of iced tea.

JTesla

July 26th, 2011
4:45 pm

I liked Haley too, and I’d like to see some pictures… but I didn’t like her that much. I don’t like any celebrity that much.

Half gallon, do you folks chug that down in one sitting?

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
4:51 pm

It usually takes me two or three sittings, JT. It’s good with popcorn, btw!

And if Neg wants to obsess over Haley, that’s his business. As long as he’s not calling the rest of us names (like some AdamClayArchieFantasia fans)…it’s ok with me.

Rickster

July 26th, 2011
5:00 pm

JT: “I don’t like any celebrity that much.

I guess his Kim Kardashian obsession has waned?

Rickster

July 26th, 2011
5:00 pm

Hope everyone has a great evening.

Deirdre

July 26th, 2011
5:01 pm

LOL, Rickster.

JTesla

July 26th, 2011
5:43 pm

Even at its peak, my Kim Kardashian obession was never like that.

M. E. Cookson

July 27th, 2011
12:30 pm

Attended the Americal Idol tour concern this past Sunday in FL. It was great entertainment. The participants are so talented in their realm.
Casey, your music and the versatality you bring to your performances brings great joy to my heart. Please do not ever give up. The talent you have must be shared. Share you do! Someone had given their opinion on this blog page that it was unlikely for you to have a “mainstream career.” Music trancends all artifically created barriers. Let me think…..would this individual have the opinion that
Andrea Bocelli was unlikely to have a “mainstream careeer”?
The “scat” that you include in your performances marries the vocal and instrumental together and form one entity. I thoroughly enjoyed the duet that you and Halley performed. I for one, would immediately purchase a record of yours and probably Halley’s before I would purchase any record that was produced and recorded by any of the idol finalists. I am not degrading their talents and wish each of them a brillent career. Keep up sharing your gift with the world. Good Luck.

shooz

July 27th, 2011
4:58 pm

Good for Casey! More people ned to be aware of Crohn’s idease. AS a yet there is no cure. it is a life long battle and usually is diagnosed 1st in children.