‘American Idol’ competitor’s family loses house, belongings in fire

Published 3:24 pm Monday, November 6, 2023

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A former “American Idol” contestant from western Stanly has had tragedy befall himself and his family.

Dustin Curlee, a singer/songwriter who earned a golden ticket to Hollywood on a recent season of “American Idol,” lost his family’s house due to fire.

Dustin Curlee performs at Buzzed Viking in Locust last Saturday. (Photo by CHARLES CURCIO/staff)

According to Stanly County Deputy Fire Marshal Evan Faulkner, the fire was reported at 8:52 a.m. Thursday at their house on Smith Road. Five volunteer fire departments were dispatched to the scene: West Stanly, Oakboro, Midland, Salem and Fairview.

West Stanly had the fire under control within 20 minutes with the help of the mutual aid departments, Faulkner said via email.

No one was home when the fire started, nor were their any injuries. Firefighters did rescue multiple animals from the home.

The cause of the fire, Faulkner said, was narrowed to an electrical outlet and was ruled accidental.

Curlee, who lived in the house with his wife, Candace, and their five children, Elijah, Lillian, Abigail, Evan and Zoey, said he and his family “are moving forward knocking out problems” right now.

He said they are trying to find a home and a vehicle big enough for the needs of their family.

Curlee said there was a power outage Thursday morning, and the receptacle “lit up” when the power came back on. He said he had asked his landlord “over and over again” to fix the problem.

Along with the house fire, and various problems with their transportation needs, Curlee continues to perform, including last Saturday night at a benefit for his family hosted by Buzzed Viking Brewery in Locust.

Curlee said he was overwhelmed with everything happening, and being able to sing Saturday was a good outlet for him.

“I love to play music,” Curlee said. “This is going to be a little outlet for me tonight to decompress…it’s going to be huge to be able to show our gratitude to everybody that is helping.”

Noting the hundreds of people helping his family, Curlee said, “all the praise to the Lord because He’s the one that done this. At first, I thought I was getting kicked into a corner…when I woke up the next morning after the fire, the only thing in my head was the assurance of God saying, ‘This is more of a blessing.’ ”

Dustin and his brother, Cody, performed together Saturday at the event as a duo, The Curlee Brothers, playing some of Dustin’s original songs.

Included in his set list was the song “Grandpa’s Martin,” referring to one of the two guitars which survived Thursday’s fire. The guitar was in the bedroom and received some smoke damage, but was still playable.

The song is about what the guitar had gone through in its existence, eventually being gifted down to him by his grandfather.

Regarding the community outpouring of support, Candace said, “I never would have expected all this. I knew we have a good community; our small town is amazing. We’ve seen it before, but to this extent, it’s hard to keep up with. We are blessed.”

She added, “we are trusting and we know everything is going to work out.”

Edward Hudson, co-owner of Buzzed Viking, said his company “is a family-owned company. So a lot of the people we work with, it’s people that we personally get together with and we know.”

Hudson said the company “has worked with a lot of musicians in the area. Whenever a tragedy hits, it affects everybody. It’s a ripple effect, and the way you can stop something like that is by working together.”

Buzzed Viking has donation boxes at its Locust location and  other location in Kannapolis.

If people have questions about how to help the Curlee family, Hudson said, “they can work with us to work with him.” He said breweries may come up with a new beer with him in mind, with the proceeds of the sales of that beer to go to his family.

There are several ways to help the family for those interested. A GoFundMe page has been set up at this link.

Those wishing to send money can also send to the following apps:

  • Cash App $DustyCurlee
  • Venmo: @Dustin-Curlee
  • PayPal: @DustinCurlee.

The family also has a list of needs for clothing, food, medicine, kitchen supplies and dog and cat food.

  • Dustin: size 34/34 pants, large shirts, size 10.5 shoes;
  • Candace: size 10 pants, medium/large shirts, 8.5 shoes;
  • Elijah: size 34/30 pants or 14/16 kids pants, XL shirts, size 9 or 10 shoes;
  • Lillian: size 10 pants or 14/16 girls pants, large women’s or XL girls’ shirts, size 8.5 shoes;
  • Abigail: size 10 girls’ pants, medium kids shirts, 6.5 or 7 shoes;
  • Evan: 6/7 kids clothes, 10/11 shoes; and
  • Zoey: 3/4T clothes, size 9 toddler shoes.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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