updated 04/20/2009 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/21/2009 AT 10:45 AM ET
Simon Cowell may have dismissed American Idol season six finalist Chris Sligh with a terse, “bye-bye curly,” when the mop-top crooner was voted off the show, but Sligh has managed to get the last word on farewells.
The singer, who moved to Nashville after Idol in 2007, just scored his first songwriting No. 1 with Rascal Flatts’s “Here Comes Goodbye.” The tune, which Sligh wrote last year with friend Clint Lagerberg, is the first single from the group’s new album and just topped the country charts last week.
“I don’t think I realize yet how big this is,” Sligh says of writing a hit for the country supergroup. “I have people telling me how much money I’m gonna make and how it’s going to open up career possibilities, but I’m just sitting here trying to figure out what all this means.”
Sligh, who was raised in a strict fundamentalist Baptist home where he wasn’t allowed to listen to pop music or “anything with a rock beat,” has already seen success as an contemporary Christian artist. Last year, his debut album, Run to You, earned critical kudos and made it into the top 10 on the Christian music charts. This week he’s up for a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for New Artist of the Year.
But the singer, who good-naturedly claimed as an Idol contestant that he was “bringing chubby back,” jokes, “Let’s be honest, I don’t look like a rock star and I don’t act like a rock star. My shtick is not the rock star thing so songwriting is definitely where my skills will end up.”
Still Sligh (who pals around with other ex-Idols who have made Nashville home, including Phil Stacey and Bo Bice) looks forward to releasing his second album next year.
“I consider myself a believer, but I hate the term Christian music,” he says. “We’re trying to make a record that transcends the genre of Christian music and one that could stand up to U2 or Coldplay or something like that. I think it could blow a lot of people away.”