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August 4, 2014

Life Meets Lumia: Tim Urban

As a kid growing up in suburban Duncanville, Texas, Tim Urban was more jock than musician. 

He played baseball, football, even golf. It wasn’t until Tim was 13 did he start playing the guitar — and he hasn’t stopped making music since.

After bouts in community theater and performing in local hotels and restaurants, the budding singer-songwriter was launched into the international spotlight as a contestant on the 2010 season of the television show, “American Idol.”

Here he is on “American Idol” singing a stirring rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”:

Tim made it to the finals of the show and afterwards, he toured North America on the “American Idols LIVE! Tour 2010″ and produced an EP of self-penned songs, “Heart of Me.”

couplehandsNow, partly with the help of his Lumia 1020, the 25-year-old is writing and recording new songs and sharing photos and videos of his life as a young musician. You can follow him on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Lumia as music assistant
He often records snippets of a melody or jots down a line or two for a lyric with this smartphone. The OneNote app is especially handy for that. Tim also loves the Lumia 1020’s camera and whips it out to snap photos as he goes about his day.

“You never know what’s going to inspire a song,” he said. “So I try to capture moments and I jot down lines on my phone if I don’t have pen and paper.”

For instance, he took the photo below with his Lumia1020 while visiting Yosemite National Park. Tim says the snapshot perfectly describes a song, “The Real You,” which will be released later this year.

“I was on a trail and I saw a couple ahead of me holding hands. The sun was coming down on them, creating a beautiful image, so I just ran up and took a photo,” he said. “It captured an emotion in the song, and whether it’s an album cover or something else, I would like to [pair] the photo with the song.

Tim is also a fan of the Lumia 1020’s video-recording capability – so much so that, instead of using a professional-grade video camera, he relied on his Lumia to shoot two recent songs; “Wheels Touch Down” and “Theme Song.”

Here’s a quick video of the latter. Note that no external microphones were used – just the built-in mic on the Lumia 1020. Great audio quality!

Soon, the Lumia 1020 may not just be snapping moments of random beauty and recording songs, but also taking images and videos of the daughter that he and his wife, Kate, are expecting this fall!

Song-writing tips

Though he’s only just cleared the quarter-century mark, Tim has the hard-won battle scars and experience of a seasoned performer. After all, it’s not easy to sing your heart out and get criticized by a panel of judges — and by Simon Cowell, no less!

So for aspiring songwriters and musicians, he offers these two tips:

1. If you start writing a song, always finish it. Doing so teaches you the structure of a song and also self-discipline, Tim says. “Whether you like the song or not, just finish it. Don’t give up!”

2. Perform in front of people. Getting feedback on your songs is important, so get on stage, even if you have to force yourself, he says. At first, you can just perform for friends and family. As you get better and integrate feedback, your songs will improve and your stage fright will diminish. And if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world, Tim says. Make a joke out of it and move on.

“The audience wants you to do well. They want you to relax and have fun,” he said. “If you mess up, it’s not a failure. It’s an opportunity to create connections with people.”

What do you think of our latest Life Meets #Lumia profile? Has Tim inspired you to create your own art, whether it’s music or another medium? Tell us in the comments below!