Dubbed by American Idol hosts as “The Ukrainian Rapper,” Marengo’s Mish Gontar has much more music versatility than the title implies.

Gontar, 27, moved to McHenry County from Ukraine seven years ago. When his mother and her American husband decided to move to America, she asked Gontar to come with her. “I said, why not?” He had good friends in Lugansk, but most of them are gone now. “Because of the war, they moved to Kiev, Russia, and other countries.” Gontar moved to Marengo four years ago. He works as a freelance MRI technologist, commuting to Lake Barrington, Deer Park, and Arlington Heights. So, when he realized American Idol auditions were in Chicago, and he had the day off, he decided to audition.

In Chicago, Gontar spent most of the time standing in line with about 2500 other people. The process is a little different that the television show portrays. Gontar sang a song in English: “Bad Company” by Five Finger Death Punch to a judge at one of 10 tables set up in a large room.

“She told me she really liked my guitar playing and voice.” After an interview, Gontar was asked to come back the next day for more auditions. After two more auditions with judges and producers, Gontar got asked to audition in New York in front of the celebrity judges.

“A lot of people liked the song I sang in Ukrainian,” he said. “It’s a crazy song with a catchy chorus, by a band that isn’t mainstream.” The band is more of an underground reggae-rap band.

“They asked me to do something different,” Gontar explained. “It didn’t show as much vocal range as some of the other songs I sing.”

Gontar has no formal vocal training. “Lots of people encouraged me to try out for American Idol or The Voice,” he said. “Since I had the day off, I thought, why not?”

Waiting in New York was the biggest challenge. “There were only about 35 people auditioning there, but the wait to perform was 10 hours.” While he waited, the crew shot video and interviewed him. Since Gontar had never been to New York, some of the video involved him taking in the sites. “It was a good experience.”

Since his ‘stardom’ on American Idol, Gontar has been on Star 105.5 and invited to play in a few places. Most recently he performed at Stage Left Café in Woodstock. He sings rock, alternative rock, some more melodic metal songs, and reggae. His advises others to “be your best self and show a range of good singing ability.”

Watch Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan sing along with Gontar in this American Idol clip of Gontar’s audition on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ACOI_Xw6_gA.

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