This article was originally published in Maclean's Magazine on July 24, 2006
Goudie, Rex (Profile)
Two St. John's, Nfld., publishing houses are this fall slated to release competing biographies - one authorized, the other not - of Rex Goudie, last year's Canadian Idol runner-up. Goudie, a 20-year-old former auto mechanic from tiny Burlington, Nfld., was catapulted to fame by the show, losing to 18-year-old Melissa O'Neil but nevertheless securing a record contract with Sony BMG. O'Neil, a Calgary native with whom Goudie performed during a subsequent cross-Canada tour, was later revealed to be his girlfriend, a fairy-tale romance that captured the imagination of fans. Then, in February, Goudie's hastily produced debut CD, Under the Lights, earned two major Juno nominations, eclipsing O'Neil's own freshman effort.
Devilishly handsome, with a disarming and natural way before TELEVISION cameras and a Newfoundland twang as thick as gravy on Jiggs' dinner - Newfoundland's traditional Sunday lunch - Goudie is an appealing figure. In his home province, he is considered more than that: a small-town, true-blue islander who even on the slick Idol sets of Toronto revelled in his roots, pouring on the brogue whether the Canadian Idol judges understood him or not. "He's reached superstar status in the eyes of Newfoundlanders," says Donna Francis, head of sales and marketing at Creative Books, one of the publishers releasing a Goudie book this fall. "He just crawled out from under a truck and went and tried out on a dare - he never ever tried to come across as anything other than that."
The two biographies both promise to detail the singer's rise to fame against the backdrop of strong family ties and an upbringing on the island's north coast. They are being written by two St. John's journalists with remarkably similar names: Kevin Kelly, author of Guts and Glory - the unauthorized book - is a senior editor with the Newfoundland Herald entertainment magazine and, according to Flanker Press, a "Rex-pert" without parallel. Kim Kielley, a columnist and associate editor with The Express, is writing Idolized, the authorized book.
Though they have never met, both writers look askance at the other's work. "There's an unauthorized biography going out," says Kielley, noting her exclusive access to Goudie since he signed a contract with Creative Books early this year. "The stuff that I've accumulated nobody else has," she says. "This is a biography that goes right back to the day he was born." The book is to be crammed with never-before-seen photographs of the singer culled from the Goudie family photo album, adds Creative's Francis. "Rex has signed a contract with us, he's working with us," she says. "Our author's been out to visit his parents, she's talked to his family, to his grandmother." Retorts Kelly: "I'm not sure what the other biography is going to entail, but I know my biography is going to be about the story of Rex Goudie." He adds, of his competitors: "They'll have baby pictures."
Both Kielley and Kelly make no secret of how they feel about Goudie. Kelly, who for years has followed Canadian Idol as a reporter, admits to voting for Goudie 180 times in a one-hour period from a St. John's pay phone the night that decided the competition's victor. "Is it possible for a 43-year-old woman to have a crush on somebody half her age?" asks Kielley. "I'd be writing about him if he was turning wrenches."
As for Goudie, he admits to some initial unease with the project. "To be honest with you, at first I was a little bit skeptical," he says. "I mean, how much can you write about somebody who's 20 years old?" Still, he understood what was at stake. "If I didn't sign on board, there was guaranteed to be somebody to do one anyway - so it was a bit of a business issue at first." As for the unauthorized work, "There's nothing legally that I can do," he says. Kelly is "a decent human being," Goudie allows. "I know he's not going to do anything unorthodox."
Kelly agrees. "From what I've seen of Rex," he says, "there's not a lot of muck to rake." Still, when Goudie last week returned to Toronto from his latest Newfoundland tour, he moved into a new apartment overlooking Lake Ontario. Have he and Melissa - they're still an item - shacked up? "I'll say no comment to that," Goudie says.
Maclean's July 24, 2006