REXBURG, Idaho — When Jon Peter Lewis stepped on the

"American Idol" stage five years ago, he had no idea how his musical

career would change.

"I tried out for 'American Idol' because I had always

wanted to be in the music business," said Lewis, who was 24 at the time.

"I had not really done anything in music. I didn't want to get to be 40

years old and then think, 'I never tried.' "

Lewis had been attending school at BYU-Idaho and was working

toward a career in medicine. But before he knew it, he was competing with the

top 10 contestants on "Idol."

__IMAGE1__"It was definitely kind of like a whirlwind

thing," Lewis said. "It was like one week I was here, going to

school, and the next week I was jamming with Elton John," Lewis said.

His favorite part was getting paid to sing. He also

appreciated that "American Idol" was a family-friendly show.

"The kind of people that would come to the show were

usually mothers and daughters," he said. "They'd come as a family and

leave as a family."

However, there were some downfalls to this new-found musical

career.

"The hardest part was that I rarely ever had a chance

to go to church while I was on the road," Lewis said. "It's one of

those things you don't really realize you're missing until you go back to

church and are like, 'Wow, I've really been missing out on some great spiritual

experiences.'"

Lewis was voted off the show in eighth place. He went on to

form his own label and released two albums independently. He's currently

working on a third.

He also produces an Internet show called the "American

Nobody Show" — a satire of "American Idol."

Most recently, Lewis returned to BYU-Idaho as a part-time

student. He said it's hard going back to school — especially since he's

already started a career — but views the experience as a good investment.

"I don't anticipate the music business lasting

forever," Lewis said. "That's kind of an enigma to me. At this point

the game for me is to finish my degree while I'm working on a career and then

to see what happens."

Lewis is pleased with how his entertainment career is going

and doesn't believe it will end anytime soon. His Internet show received a good

review in the Los Angeles Times and was listed in TV Guide by its third

episode. His single, "Breaking Silence," was in the top 20 at East

Coast Radio.

"There have been a lot of things that have been great

about it," Lewis said. "I haven't had to work at McDonald's

yet."