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Reed earned the lead role in "Footloose" while in high school.
Reed earned the lead role in "Footloose" while in high school.

Will Hollywood embrace Reed Grimm?

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arts and entertainment River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Wednesday and Thursday, friends and family will again gather at two spots to see if Reed Grimm will move beyond the Hollywood round of "American Idol."

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The 26-year-old's life was pretty average compared to his older siblings Trey and Jennifer. Colleen Raye, Grimm's mom sat down to share some insights into young Reed's life.

Born into a family where both his mom and dad, Steve Grimm, were professional singers, Reed appeared on stage with the family act as early as age two. The performers already included Trey and Jennifer soon to be joined by Sophie, the youngest daughter. The family act was called Genetic Energy. Raye, whose energy almost matches that of her son, jokes about the fact that she was in labor with all four of her children while performing on stage.

"We were at McGuire's in St. Paul," said Raye, "when I went into labor with Reed." Dr. Eugene Jonas of Ellsworth delivered all four of her children.

"What people don't realize is that once Reed was six, we were off the road," said Raye. That was when the couple separated and eventually divorced. Raye returned permanently to their home in Hager City.

"Reed and Sophie lived a regular life attending school in Ellsworth. The two older children Trey and Jennifer essentially never attended a public school." Reed and Sophie attended St. Francis Elementary School, Ellsworth Middle School and both graduated from Ellsworth High School.

"The kids got to know the value of a small town," said Raye. "It really does take a village to raise kids. By this time their dad was back on the road performing and everyone was so helpful. It is nice for a community to get attention for something positive."

"At first he was a little reticent that he would stick out in school," said Raye. "He did some television commercials when he was young and so did Sophie.

Once Reed was in school, he started to play piano and taught himself to juggle.

"I got a call from a parent from the school one day, she needed to talk to me," said Raye, who feared something terrible. The concerned parent shared that Reed had taken her son's recorder and played it through his nose. While that early talent for playing a musical instrument in an atypical way was distressing, it might have been a window into the creativity to come.

"He has the same energy now that he had as a little guy," said Raye. "He started playing the drums when he was 12. We got him a drum set for his birthday when he was in sixth grade."

"When we were still on the road, Reed idolized the drummer in our band and loved to sit behind the drums," said Raye. "He started to learn a little bit about playing them while we were still on the road."

Reed went on to sing and dance in high school musicals and excel on the drums, especially in jazz band.

"I figured they (the four children) would almost have to have it (musical talent) in their blood given we were both singers and performers," said Raye. "But I wanted them to go to college to have something to fall back on. All four graduated from college."

Reed chose to attend UW-La Crosse and graduated with a major in percussion and a minor in philosophy.

"Reed is so well loved," said Raye, who only wishes the best for him. This is fifth time he has tried out for "American Idol." "I said to him 'This is your time' when he was selected to go to Hollywood."

He first appeared on stage in Hudson when he is 12 or 13, according to Raye, as part of her annual New Year's Eve show at The Phipps Center for the Arts. |

Family and friends will gather again in River Falls at Junior's Bar and Grill and at Manitou Station in White Bear Lake, Minn., this week to see if Reed continues his journey.

"American Idol" Hollywood segments will be aired Wednesday, Feb. 8, and Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.

Margaret A. Ontl is a reporter/photographer for the Hudson Star-Observer.

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