Beaverton-based musician Sharif Iman was named a finalist in the 2022 Opening Act competition, where contestants vie to open at the Hollywood Bowl for high-profile artists.
Iman, who also works as a worship leader at the Beaverton Christian Church, currently is first in the national competition's quarterfinals as of Aug. 26.
The contest at this point is decided based on votes from audiences online, and the indie rock artist said he's honored to have gotten this far.
"To get the support just from fans and people, it's been amazing. Like 20,000 applicants started out, and I'm still No. 1 in the quarterfinals," Iman said. "It's mind-blowing to me. It's such a blessing, but it just goes to show that I'm loved and I'm seen and I'm heard — and people are fighting for me."
Opening Act winners also take home $10,000. The competition's website says the 2021 winners opened for Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas, Doja Cat, The Kid LAROI and Shawn Mendes in Los Angeles.
Iman heard about the competition while scrolling through Instagram around late June or early July. Once he saw the post, he knew he should do it.
"I felt like God was like, 'do this,'" he said. "So, I just did it. I submitted my music, filled out a profile and then just kept scrolling."
Iman heard back just three days later, and before he knew it, he was "crushing" the first half of the competition, and he's still going. It's been stressful, but it's been great, too, he said.
In the competition, Iman goes by his stage name, Jupiter 7.
People can submit one free vote for a competitor per day, Iman said, but most of what drives the competition are paid votes — which also contribute to donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"A portion of the donations go toward that, and it's huge that they're partnering with them. That's just amazing, especially in these times," Iman said. "I was one of those people at a time, but I saw life and had support to where I can value life much differently, so it's very near and dear to my heart."
Iman grew up in an abusive home and ended up homeless, but his experience afterward shaped his music today.
He started out his career in Nashville, but having lived in Beaverton for four years, Iman is excited to represent Oregon at the Hollywood Bowl — "when I win," he said.
He's confident, but Iman said he still can't believe how much support he's seen so far.
"I'm getting people who have been fans and family of mine for years, and I'm getting new people who have just met me who are just saying, 'we believe in you.' … The support has just blown me away," Iman said.
To vote for Iman in the competition, visit theopenact.com/2022/jupiter-7. People also can sign up for text updates to follow his progress.
Voting for the semifinals ends at 8 p.m. Sept. 1, but "when" he makes it to the final rounds, Iman said people can vote for him until Sept. 15.
"I don't think that I'm in first on my own because of my talent. When I win, I didn't get there based on my talent," Iman said. "I got there because there was a community of people who believed in me, so we all get there together. That's how I've always seen my career and my life and the music that I've done."
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