CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Eben Christian first captured the attention of Tri-state theater-goers after acting in several local plays years ago. Now, the world is taking notice. The 15-year-old is transitioning into his biggest role yet: American Idol hopeful.
But before Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson knew his name, and before strangers created three Facebook fan pages for him, Eben was just a normal Loveland teenager who couldn't remember to pick up his clothes in his bedroom. It's a habit his mother just loves.
"Ohmigosh. She recently said, if you don't start picking up your clothes, I'm going to take your phone away," said Eben. "So that's given me some motivation to clean my room and everything."
Eben's been performing just about all of his life. He auditioned for Playhouse in the Park's Associate Artistic Director Michael Haney five years ago.
"Just a delightful kid," said Haney.
Haney directed the play, A Christmas Carol. Haney said it took him weeks to realize Eben could sing.
"He got up in front of the Christmas tree and just started singing this Michael Jackson song, and I mean wailing on it," said Haney. "People were just stunned. Everything in the party stopped, and jaws hit the floor."
Seeking that same reaction from Idol judges, Eben, his family, and three friends packed up the van and drove to Pittsburgh last summer to audition. Eben said that waiting to audition felt like that longest day of his life.
"It was so long, and it was like 90 degrees out, and I thought it'd be a nice day to wear jeans," said Eben. "As a matter of fact, it was not! I was burning up. It was horrible. It was a horrible wait, but the wait was worth it."
It certainly was worth it. All three American Idol judges voted for Eben.
"It was an incredible, incredible experience," he said. "Just to see them, and then for them to say I had a God given gift. That I just have it. Like, Wow!"
And like that, the Milford High School freshman is headed to Hollywood with a new name. Eben Christian Franckewitz has decided to drop his last name, and go by his first and middle names: Eben Christian. A name that seems only fitting considering the young man says his faith always comes first. Eben says he tries to attend his church every Sunday.
"All of my ability in singing is definitely from God," said Eben. "Without Him, I would not be here today."
Another well-known singer holds the same belief: Justin Bieber. The public can't stop comparing them to one another.
"I don't know. Maybe it's the hair," said Eben. "That I look like him, but you know, I want to be Eben. I don't want to be Justin, because we're two different people, and we want to be our own people."
Meantime, Eben is busy preparing for his big moment, but first, he had a message for his two biggest fans.
"Thank you so much, mom and dad," said Eben. "Thank you so much for everything you do. I love you guys."