Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

TOP STORY >> New Cabot church welcomes singer

By CHRISTY HENDRICKS
Leader staff writer

The congregation at eight-week-old Abundant Blessings Church in Cabot had a special treat Sunday morning.

Not only was founder Dr. Randy Caldwell present, but Michael Sarver of “American Idol” joined in the praise and worship service.

Sarver, a native of Jasper, Texas, agreed to stop in at the new church after longtime friend Caldwell called him. “We just figured we’d have a good time for God,” Sarver said.

“I always remember those who encouraged me. He was one of them,” he said of Caldwell.
Sarver performed an energetic and impressive praise and worship service before Caldwell’s sermon. “I am what I am because of Jesus Christ,” Sarver proclaimed during the service.

The 27-year-old former oil rig worker says he auditioned for American Idol “mostly because of my sister-in-law.”

He says she had always wanted to audition. So Sarver, his wife and sister-in-law made their way to Phoenix, Ariz. Sarver got a ticket to Hollywood, but his sister-in-law didn’t.

“She’s the biggest supporter in the world,” he says of his sister-in-law.

“‘American Idol’ was a journey that I’ll never forget,” he says. “I grew as a singer. I grew as an artist, but I also grew as a person.” Sarver made the top 10, but was voted out during Motown week last March.

Sarver says his first experience in Cabot was meeting so many friendly people.

The second was the eating fried chicken at Crossroads Café. “There’s fried chicken, and then there’s FRIED CHICKEN,” he said. Sarver joked that the friendly people are lucky that he met them before finding out about the chicken.

After enjoying his meal, Sarver, Dr. Caldwell and others from the church went bowling Saturday evening. “We’ve had fun,” he says of his Cabot visit.

Sarver also met some family members for the first time in person. His wife has grandparents, aunts and uncles that live in the area.

He says the No. 1 thing he noticed first about Arkansas native Kris Allen is that “he was a man of God. I have an automatic bond with those.

“I think it’s very special what (Jacksonville native) Kris Allen has brought to ‘American Idol,’” he says. Sarver and Allen, along with the rest of the “American Idol” top 10, will make a stop at Alltel Arena on July 25.

Tickets go on sale Saturday.

Sarver predicts that the Little Rock stop of the tour will be big. “Houston’s mad because they’re not getting the tour,” he says.

If you tune in to the results show at 8 tonight, you can see if Allen makes the next round.

Abundant Blessings Church meets at 10 a.m. each Sunday in Cabot Junior High South’s cafeteria.

Allen was born and raised in Jacksonville and now lives in Conway with his wife, Katy. He is the son of Neil and Kim Allen of Maumelle, formerly of Jacksonville. His grandparents, Charles and Linda Wood, still live in Jacksonville.