Mineola guitar teacher strikes gold again with American Idol contestant

John DeFoore’s students include Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and now ‘Idol’ contest Riley Thompson

Mineola guitar teacher strikes gold again with American Idol contestant
John DeFoore's studio is located inside an old hotel in downtown Mineola. (Source: Blake Holland, KLTV)

MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) - What do Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and American Idol contestant Riley Thompson have in common? Besides all being from East Texas, they all had the same guitar teacher.

For more than 40 years, John DeFoore has put his heart and soul into music, and along the way, he’s been a teacher to the stars.

“You know you’ve got to be the best," DeFoore said. "But you’ve also got to be seen at the right time.”

On the walls of DeFoore’s Mineola music studio, there are reminders of the talent he has nurtured through the years. Along with signed photos of Musgraves, there’s a guitar on the wall that was painted by her mom. DeFoore also has a handwritten note from when Musgraves had to miss lessons while away at camp. It reads, “John- here is Kacey’s tuition for July. She will be at camp all this week, but Miranda (Lambert) is taking her Tues. lesson.”

And now there is another rising star, Mabank’s Riley Thompson. The Mabank native is now in the Top 14 of American Idol.

“I don’t normally watch those shows unless I have a student in there," DeFoore said. “But I’ve been watching this one, and there’s a lot of stiff competition. So, I’m really proud of how far she’s gotten.”

And while there’s no doubt DeFoore is rooting for his student, he remembers another televised singing contest, Nashville Star, in which Miranda Lambert placed third.

“The top two are not remembered,” he said. “The contests are nice. They get your name out there. But how far Riley goes, it’s great that she’s going this far. But she’s already proven she could do what we need to do, it’s just a lot of work."

Work that for so many talented people started in that little room in downtown Mineola.

“My students have been lucky. Or blessed, I should say,” DeFoore said.

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