Sam Woolf scholarship to be established in Bradenton

toconnor@bradenton.comMay 5, 2014 

BRADENTON -- The suddenly jet-setting lifestyle of Braden River High School singing sensation Sam Woolf hasn't made him forget his hometown support system.

And the new Sam Woolf Music Scholarship Fund will help ensure his followers won't soon forget Woolf either. The Del Couch Music Foundation, which nurtured Woolf's talents the past two years, will officially establish the scholarship fund Wednesday.

"It will raise money to give

to other deserving students like Sam who don't have the opportunities they deserve," said Del Couch.

After finishing in the top five for "American Idol" this season, the sky is the limit for the 18-year-old heartthrob, whose every TV appearance the past few weeks had young women screaming and swooning.

A big Bradenton concert is possible after the national "American Idol Live!" summer tour, according to promoters from Realize Bradenton, which scheduled breakout Woolf appearances attended by thousands during the downtown Bradenton Farmers' Market series.

"It's just a speculative thing at this point," said Couch. "We would like to have a 'welcome home, congratulate Sam concert' to be held at a location unknown after the tour. Obviously, we can't do anything until after the tour is over."

Since the fall of 2013, Realize Bradenton has partnered with the Del Couch Music Education Foundation to spotlight young emerging talent to the community every Saturday at the Farmers' Market.

"Realize Bradenton promotes everything about the Bradenton area, as well as supporting emerging local talents in arts and music, so we're just absolutely delighted Sam Woolf was playing at the Bradenton Farmers' Market way before 'American Idol,'" said Johnette Isham, Realize Bradenton executive director. "It's kind of a win-win because (young performers) get to practice at our events and we get great talents."

Backers from Realize Bradenton, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Del Couch Music Education Foundation, the city of Bradenton and Fresh Music have scheduled an invitation-only Woolf appearance for Wednesday in Bradenton to raise money for his new scholarship fund.

"Del Couch works with young people to develop their skills," Isham said. "We have been promoting Sam for months and at the weekly Woolf Watches at Motorworks Brewing. We were disappointed when Sam made it through to the top 5 and was eliminated but Sam's a winner no matter how you look at if for the Bradenton area. Additionally, and more importantly for this young man, he's gotten such a great launch to his career."

Being in the top five nets Woolf some kind of endorsement and involvement with The Walt Disney Co., according to Isham.

Woolf's accolades and honors don't surprise Couch, who said the singer-songwriter was pushed to be a performer he's not by "American Idol" judges.

"There was no question about his talent. His grandpa came to us a couple of years ago and said we had to hear his grandson," Couch said. "The ironic thing is his grandpa said he sounds just like Michael Buble and he did. It was incredible. Through his singing and lessons, he found his own voice and a year later he was Sam Woolf.

"I actually felt like he could make the top 10 and maybe the top five of 'American Idol,' believe it or not, but I didn't have a huge holding out for No. 1. The image 'Idol' portrays is not who he is. Sam is a troubadour."

Terry O'Connor, Herald metro editor, can be reached at of 941-745-7040.

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