Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Jason Castro had sung in public only a few times before auditioning for Season 7 of “American Idol.” If you looked closely while he was singing, he says you probably could have seen his hands shaking.

Despite his nerves, Castro was eager to take his golden ticket out of school at Texas A&M University.

Castro was at a crossroads when he decided to audition for Fox’s groundbreaking singing competition. He’d just quit his band and wasn’t sure if A&M was the right fit for a kid with dreads. After class, Castro would come home, cook dinner and watch “American Idol,” just because it was on.

“That’s when I got the idea,” he says. “There hasn’t been a guy like me on the show before. Maybe I could do this.”

Castro went on to finish fourth and release three albums as a solo artist. After nearly 10 years in the music industry, he moved back to Dallas and settled in Hollywood Heights. Now, Castro is working on his second act as a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lakewood.

“I’d been touring and doing music, but it had become a job,” Castro says. “My wife and I were both ready for a change. It was a very difficult change because my identity was wrapped up in music. It was all I had ever done.”

Real estate may seem like an odd choice for someone so artistically inclined, but Castro views the industry as a creative outlet — a creative outlet that actually pays.

Plus, real estate is in his blood.

When his grandmother emigrated from Colombia, she worked three jobs and bought real estate. His father was an architect and owned his own swimming pool design company. Castro, the first person in his family born in the United States, grew up working for his father. But it wasn’t until he read the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” in high school that he seriously considered investing in real estate.

Castro got his start flipping houses in Lakewood and turning them into rental properties. After getting his license, he started working in real estate full time in 2017. Two years later, he formed Castro Property Group with his brother.

“My vision for all of this is to be a one-stop shop for people,” Castro says. “If someone wants to buy a house and fix it up, that’s a daunting task for someone who’s never done it. Buying a house is awesome and scary. I want to make it easy.”

It’s a job that also allows Castro to spend more time with his family.

Photo credit: Danny Fulgencio

The 32-year-old has three daughters under the age of 10 and a newborn son with his wife, Mandy. The couple started dating in college, but they knew each other from their high school days in Rowlett. She was a cheerleader. He was a skater kid. When she found out he didn’t go to pep rallies, that was a tough conversation.

Even tougher was a musician’s life on the road. But through it all, Castro experienced some unforgettable adventures. On an international tour in Singapore, Castro ate fish eyes. In Norway, he rode a catamaran through the fjords. And in Seattle, he hopped on a Patriot jet that hit 4.5 Gs.

Those experiences might never have been possible without his “Idol” fame. When he auditioned with thousands of others at Texas Stadium, he was sorted into a small group of singers to perform in front of judges. The other contestants in his group were dismissed. He was asked to sing another song. Then another. 

“I’m like, ‘I hope that was enough’ because that was literally all the songs that I knew,” Castro says.

The judges were satisfied and agreed to advance him to the next round, on the condition that he go home and practice.

“I love sharing that because everyone thinks that when people make it they’ve got it all figured out and have been doing it forever, but no,” Castro says. “I took a chance and gave it my best.”

While Castro set off for “Idol” stardom, his brother Michael and sister Jackie forged their own musical careers. In 2016, the siblings reunited to form the indie folk trio, Castro. They toured with the likes of Andy Grammer and Gavin DeGraw in a beat-up 1997 RV that they’d always dreamed about while camping as kids.

The siblings hit a metaphorical speed bump when they couldn’t figure out how to turn on the heater. They suffered through below-freezing temperatures at a truck stop until the next morning, when they realized they had to turn on the propane.

“Oh, that RV. It was not a beauty,” Castro says. “The body was a different color than the cab, but it made it everywhere. We drove it coast to coast two or three times. It was really tight quarters. That might have been why the band broke up.”

Broke up might be too strong a phrase. Jackie did leave the band to pursue a solo career in Nashville, but Castro and his brother still perform about once a month. VisitDallas commissioned their latest single, “Forever Texas,” to market the city as a tourist destination. The brothers have also played at open-house concerts and events.

“We’re not your typical real estate agents,” Castro says. “We want to make real estate fun.”

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