Modesto’s Ryan Hammond ends his ‘American Idol’ run, but is coming to city for show

Modesto native Ryan Hammond (center) was eliminated from “American Idol” after performing his All-Star Duet with Broadway star Cynthia Erivo.
Modesto native Ryan Hammond (center) was eliminated from “American Idol” after performing his All-Star Duet with Broadway star Cynthia Erivo. ABC

Modesto native Ryan Hammond won’t be the next American Idol. But that doesn’t mean you’ve heard the last of him, especially not in Modesto.

The 25-year-old was eliminated from the hit reality singing competition after his All-Star Duet performance aired Monday night on ABC. The Modesto High graduate performed the soul classic “Hold On, I’m Comin’ ” with Broadway star Cynthia Erivo in his final performance on the show, which was pre-taped in February.

He becomes the second contestant from Modesto in as many years to be eliminated after the All-Star Duets and fail to make it to the live voting rounds. Last year, Modesto singer Effie Passero made it to the Top 14 before being bounced from the show. Hammond advanced to the Top 20 this season, but failed to make the cut for the Top 14, who then advance to the live singing rounds and America’s Vote.

But that doesn’t mean his Idol days are all behind him now. Hammond, along with fellow Modesto native and last season Idol finalist Passero, are planning a concert at Modesto High on May 10. The hometown show will also feature Hammond’s fellow recently eliminated “Idol” contestants Margie Mays and Nick Townsend, who he became close with while taping the series.

The local show will be sponsored by the Modesto High Performing Arts Academy, which Hammond was a part of while at the school. Tickets are on sale now through Eventbrite and run $24 to $40.

Hammond posted a thank you to his fans on his Instagram feed after his elimination episode aired, saying this is “only the beginning of my music journey.” Throughout his run on “Idol,” Hammond discussed his dramatic weight loss and how that has helped build his confidence as a singer. At one point, he weighted 331 pounds. But through gastric bypass surgery, exercise and diet, he has been able to lose 170 pounds in the past two years.

The celebrity judging panel of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan had often praised Hammond’s powerful voice. But they also encouraged him to work on his stage presence. During his Top 20 solo performance, he sang “You Say” by Grammy-winning Christian artist Lauren Daigle, which aired last week.

But his All-Star Duet was selected for him, and it was a song he had never heard before. The upbeat “Hold On, I’m Comin’ ” by Sam & Dave came out 27 years before Hammond was born. He and Grammy, Emmy and Tony winner Erivo belted the number to the judges’ apparent approval in a performance taped over the weekend after Valentine’s Day.

Perry said afterward, “Your voice is just amazing on all levels and you’ve got such class about you.” But Bryan asked for him to bring more “swagger” on stage.

Ryan Hammond - Exit 2.jpg
Modesto native Ryan Hammond was eliminated from “American Idol” after performing his All-Star Duet with Broadway star Cynthia Erivo. Eric McCandless ABC

His Modesto parents, who were able to travel to see each one of Hammond’s “Idol” performances, said they were proud of his accomplishments, both professionally and personally, while on the show. This was Hammond’s third time auditioning for “American Idol,” and the first time he made it onto the series.

“Ryan has went through rejection and taken the nos,” said Hammond’s mother, Nicole Hammond. “People say it is a setback, but he uses it as a step up to keep climbing for his dreams.”

Nicole and her husband Mark Hammond lead the Celebration Center church in south Modesto. Mark Hammond had his own 15 seconds of fame at the start of the season when during his son’s audition, celebrity judge Katy Perry name-dropped him. Perry and the younger Hammond were both raised in their respective churches, and Perry’s parents had a church in Stockton when she was younger and crossed paths with the Hammonds.

Mark Hammond said the community has been incredibly supportive. Waiters at restaurants have commented on Ryan’s performances while they were dining out and people have even visited their church after seeing him on the show.

“Everybody has celebrated him with us,” Mark Hammond said. “We’ve just had a blast. We’ve felt nothing but love. We’re native Modestans, so when something like this happens, although this city has gotten big, we’ve got a nice sense of community here. When it’s all said and done, when there’s something to celebrate in this city, we do it well.”

For more on Hammond, visit his website at www.ryanjonhammond.com.

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs midweek and Sundays. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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