Sophomore Alex Wagner-Trugman, originally from Studio City, Calif., began his singing career in the modest setting of his bedroom closet. He taught himself how to sing, but it was not until college that he thought of music as a talent that could propel him to success.
In March as one of 36 finalists on America’s beloved “American Idol,” Wagner-Trugman withdrew from the university for the spring semester and had the chance to become the next superstar.
Trugman-Wagner, who rose to the top past more than 100,000 contenders, participated in his first live performance from Hollywood.
During the summer of 2008, he and a group of friends went on a road trip to Phoenix, Ariz., to audition for “American Idol.” When the opportunity to showcase his singing talent came, Wagner-Trugman sang James Ingram’s “Baby Come to Me”.
Although Simon Cowell said no, judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi gave him the golden ticket to Hollywood. It was then that he went on to find his groove on the historic stage of the Kodak Theater during Hollywood Week and continued to advance.
In order to progress to the top 36, though, Wagner-Trugman had to beat his friend Cody Sheldon in a sudden-death sing-off, which he did with a stirring rendition of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”
“I can’t take any credit for Alex’s singing ability,” said David Malis, Wagner-Trugman’s voice professor who helped him sing with more authority. “He works hard and is focused on it. I think Alex can be successful at any singing style.”
Junior vocal performance major Dan Granbow missed his roommate’s presence over the past years. Before Wagner-Trugman’s live performance in front of a national audience, Granbow had this to say:
“It has been tough here without my best friend, but I know how amazing this experience is and how much it means to him,” he said. “All I can do is be his biggest fan and support this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If anyone can do it, it’s Alex.”
A unique character whose quirky personality was highlighted on the show, Wagner-Trugman is an eclectic person whose outlandish activities consistently surprise his friends and classmates.
Suitemate Ryan Freedman, a junior majoring in marine science and biology, remarked on the many ludicrous activities.
“My favorite Alex memory was when he won the Rock, Paper, Scissors competition in SportsFest 2008. We carried him in on a plywood board. He got all dressed up with a robe, sunglasses and gelled hair,” Freedman said. “He somehow won the entire event and became the Rock, Paper, Scissors champion.”
Wagner-Trugman has even earned the respect of his professors outside the classroom.
“Alex has a great [basketball] jump shot,” Malis teased. “Alex is a charming, personable, talented guy.”