Phillip Phillips – American Idol (Season 11)

June 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

On May 23, singer Phillip Phillips was named the winner of Season 11 of “American Idol.” The following day, Phillips, 21, spoke to me about his future career in the music industry.

As you know, winning “American Idol” doesn’t come with automatic success in the music industry. What do you hope this win will do for your career?

I completely agree, man. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. I can’t stop for anything. I just want to get my own music out there so people can enjoy it. I’m probably going to have a lot of sleepless nights. That’s what it’s going to take to make it big. I’m just going to stay focused on what I want to do with my career and my music. I already know what kind of artist I am and what kind of music I want to put out and what I want to be known for. I’m just excited to tell my own stories through my music.

How have you evolved as a musician over the last few months?

I can sing a ballad and not feel too uncomfortable on stage. It’s not really something I want to do for my career, but I guess people wanted to see that. I felt like I did a good job.

Did you surprise yourself at all?

I surprised myself by performing this many songs, honestly. When I saw how many songs [Season 10 winner] Scotty [McCreery] did, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do that many. I’m really proud of myself for doing that. Throughout this competition I was really pushing myself.

Unfortunately, the Season 11 finale was the lowest rated finale in “American Idol” history. What do you think that says about the show’s staying power after 11 seasons?

I don’t know, man. Some people might still be diggin’ the show, some people might not. That’s what makes the world go round. It’s a good show. Some people like it and some people don’t.

Do you think part of the reason ratings have dropped is because the field has been diluted by other singing competitions on TV like “X-Factor” and “The Voice?

PUBLICIST: Next question.

The Huffington Post wrote an article after your win called “Why Phillip Phillips and the White Guy with Guitar Trend are Bad for Business.” What do you think of critics who think you won because of your marketability and not because you were the best singer?

It’s just people’s opinions, man. If they paid attention they’d understand there was a big difference between me and other guitarists. A lot of them just play different chords and strum. I’m just excited to get my career on the right path and have fun with it.

You broke down during your last song in the finale and were unable to finish it. What were you thinking about that made you get so emotional?

I just started thinking about the Top 12 and how far we’d come. I was thinking about the journey. It’s not as easy as it looks on TV. There is a lot of work put into it.

Jeremy Rosado – American Idol

March 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Chaléwood

When Jeremy Rosado auditioned for the current season of “American Idol,” he was anything but a stranger to the popular talent show on Fox. Rosado, who is originally from Valrico, Florida, had tried out for the series four times before. Hearing the word “no” just wasn’t in his plans to become a famous singer.

“‘American Idol’ was one of those things I always dreamt about,” Rosado, 19, told me during an interview last week. “I wanted to see what it was like and wouldn’t stop until I did. I just kept coming back.”

Rosado’s fifth time auditioning turned out to be the season he always knew would come someday. Unfortunately, Rosado’s time on “American Idol” came to an end on March 8. He was eliminated from competition after singing his rendition of “Ribbon in the Sky” by Stevie Wonder.

A week after his final show, Rosado talked to us about his experience on “American Idol” and how he hopes it will help him in his singing career, his thoughts on the controversial elimination of contestant Jermaine Jones, and what he really thinks about the nickname judge Jennifer Lopez gave him.

Were you disappointed with how the show ended for you?

You know, 112,000 people auditioned for the show and I made it to the final 13, so I’m grateful for that much. It was a little disappointing, but I’m happy I made it that far.

Is it going to be hard to watch the show?

I watched last night (March 14) and it was a little rough. But I will continue to watch it. I made a lot of brothers and sisters for life. I love each and every one of them. I’m excited to see them and support them.

Every season we hear how contestant becomes life-long friends with one another. Is that really true?

Yeah, you always hear it and I never really thought it would happen, but it has. We’ve done everything together for the past couple of months. There’s nothing but true love between each and every one of us.

Are you rooting for anyone specific on the show now? Jennifer Sanchez, maybe?

You know, I really love Jennifer so much. We are best friends. I can’t wait to see how the show plays out. I’m rooting for her and everyone else.

What was going through your mind when it was announced last week that you would not be coming back for another show?

It was devastating right then and there. It didn’t take any time. But I’ve come to realize how blessed I am. I know there will be great things to come.

Have you thought back to your last performance and wished you had done something differently?

You know, I was really happy with my last performance. I thought it was pretty good. I know it wasn’t my best, but I definitely didn’t think it was my worst. I just think it was my time. There was nothing else I could’ve done.

What are your thoughts on contestant Jermaine Jones, who was just disqualified by producers for lying about his arrest record?

It’s unfortunate that it happened to Jermaine. He’s a great person and definitely one of my brothers. It kind of stinks they publicized everything all over the world. I’m hoping he’s going to be alright.

What did you think about Jennifer Lopez’s nickname for you, Jer-Bear?

It’s definitely cool. My fans on Twitter call me that now. Who else can say Jennifer Lopez gave them a nickname? I’m happy with it.

Have you gone out and bought JerBear.com yet?

I have not bought JerBear.com, but I think we’re going to try to copyright some version of Jer-Bear. We’ll see what happens now.

What do you hope being featured on a show like “American Idol” will do for your career?

I hope to get a recording contract. I hope to get a TV show and some movies. I hope to win an Oscar! I have huge dreams!

Karen Rodríguez – American Idol (Season 10)

January 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

A contestant on Season 10 of “American Idol” last year, Karen Rodríguez is now ready to be a fan of the show for the first time as a regular viewer.

“I rarely watched the show before Season 10,” Rodríguez admitted to me during an interview to help promote Season 11, which premiered last week. “Now, I know what it’s like to be there, so I’m probably going to want to see everything.”

Last season, Rodríguez, who is half Dominican and half Peruvian, finished in 12th place after making it to the semifinals. She was commended by many Latino viewers for making a bold choice to sing in both English and Spanish during the competition.

During our interview, Rodríguez talked about why she connects more with Spanish-language music and what it’s really like singing in front of someone like Jennifer Lopez.

“American Idol” airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. on Fox.

Last season when you were a contestant, why was it so important for you to perform in both English and Spanish?

Spanish is my first language. My parents are from the Dominican Republic and Peru. They both came to the U.S. to seek opportunities. For me to have an opportunity like “American Idol” speaks volumes. A lot Latinos are still coming over here to the U.S. to seek those same dreams, but there are so many out there who don’t feel like they’re represented. I wanted to be their voice and speak for all of them. I want to tell them, “You can be President. You can get that job. You can be the net big pop star.”

Did you ever worry you would disconnect yourself from the TV audience who were not bilingual?

No, because I feel like I have the best of both worlds. I am Latina and I am an American. Eventually when I do become the artist I know I can be I’m going to want to sing in both languages. I wanted to show people who I am from the very beginning. I want them to know I’ve been real this whole time.

When you sing in Spanish does it feel different than when you sing in English? Do you deliver the songs differently?

I think Spanish music is so much different than English music, especially the Spanish music I grew up hearing and singing. I think I might connect with Spanish a little more. Spanish music tends to have more emotion. There is a lot of pain in boleros and rancheras. When singers like Celia Cruz or Marc Anthony sing a song in Spanish about heartbreak, they leave their pain on the stage. You can hear the cries in their voices. That’s what I try to deliver as well.

What was it like singing in front of someone you idolize like Jennifer Lopez?

How many people get to sing in front of their idol every week? I had been following her career since I was eight years old. I grew up listening to all her songs and buying her albums. To have her there and develop a relationship with her through music was great. She’s been one of my guides in my career.

Last year was the first year Simon Cowell was not on the judges’ panel. Some critics said the judges were too easy on the contestants. Even Jennifer Lopez has stated the judges are going to be tougher this season. Did you feel like you received enough constructive criticism or would you have liked more?

I think it was the first time for Steven [Tyler] and Jennifer so they were trying different things out. Personally, I loved the judges when I was on the show. It was like they were doing comedy. We knew we weren’t going to go on stage and feel like we were going to be attacked. Contestants that had Simon judging them probably felt a little scared. For me, I just tried to go out there and do what I do. If they liked it, that was great. If they didn’t, they would tell us with care and love. I think that’s something everyone needs from their mentors. At the end of the day, I knew that when I performed on stage I was going to leave with a smile on my face.

Julie Zorrilla – American Idol (Season 10)

March 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

Musician Julie Zorrilla, 20, had come a long way since wowing all three judges with her rendition of “Summertime” from the opera “Porgy and Bess” during her very first “American Idol” audition in January.

Singing her way into the semifinals at the end of February, Zorrilla, who is originally from Colombia, impressed the country for more than a month with a number of performances including Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” and The Beatles’ “Something in the Way.”

Her “American Idol” journey, unfortunately, came to an end on Mar. 3 when viewers did not vote her in as one of the 13 finalists. The night before, judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Steven Tyler were not overly enthusiastic after hearing her sing Kelly Clarkson’s single “Breakaway.”

The day after being eliminated from the show, Zorrilla took some time to talk with me about her early departure and why a reality show like “American Idol” really wasn’t the best platform to show off her talent.

What was going on in your mind when you were center stage and Ryan Seacrest announced you were not one of the finalists?

Honestly, I was just very happy for all my peers who made it through. They are all incredibly talented people who have worked hard to get to where they are. I was also happy for myself because being in the top 24 was still an incredible thing.

Other than knowing you can compete with some of the best singers in the country, what else did you learn about yourself though all this?

I actually shocked myself at how calm I was and how well I handled the news, especially backstage. Everyone who didn’t make it to the finals was falling apart. I was just trying to cheer everyone up. I was happy that I wasn’t in tears. I actually haven’t cried at all.

Because you’re not only a singer, but a musician, too, do you think “American Idol” was the best platform to show your musical talent?

I think the special thing that I have is the singer/songwriter approach I take to my music. I love my music and playing [instruments]. That is who I am. I don’t necessarily know if that is right for a show like “American Idol” because it’s about performing on stage without instruments. I thought I had what it would take, but my skill set is different than what everyone else was doing on the show.

How did you think the judges came across this year without Simon Cowell?

I thought they had a great chemistry. I loved having them there. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are huge icons in the industry. It was amazing to get feedback from them. I thought there were harsh on me and my “Breakaway” performance. What I really wanted to do was get onstage with a guitar and sing that song. I wasn’t allowed to do that for that round. I would’ve been able to make it my own that way.

So, did you feel like you were limited by the producers to perform the way you would’ve liked to?

I mean, at the end of the day you have to take responsibility for yourself. One of the hardest things about “Idol” is that people are giving you advice all of the time. But at the end of the day, you’re the artist. When you walk on that stage, you are the one that has ultimately made the decision. Unfortunately, the only decision I couldn’t make was being able to sing and play [the guitar] at the same time. I was the only girl in the top 24 who played an instrument. I don’t really feel like I got the opportunity to shine at what I actually do best.

How do you think “American Idol” is going to help your career?

I think this was the start of my career. I’ve gotten the chance to show people what I can do. You can’t put a price on what “Idol” has done for me. This has opened so many doors. Now, all I have to do is keep working and take advantage of the opportunities that are coming my way. I can feel it. It’s only the beginning.

David Archuleta – American Idol

January 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

It has been almost three years since David Archuleta was voted first runner up on Season 7 of “American Idol,” but it’s a part of his life he will never forget.

Today, Archuleta, 20, has transferred his success on the popular TV talent show into a professional solo singing career. His most recent album, The Other Side of Down, was released by Jive Records in October 2010.

Currently, Archuleta, who is of Honduran decent from his mother’s side, is helping promote the new season of “American Idol” (Season 10), which premiered last week with 26 million viewers tuning in.

During an interview with me, Archuleta talked about the type of changes he anticipates now that longtime judge Simon Cowell is no longer on the show and why he has always embraced his Latinos roots as a performer.

“American Idol” airs every Wednesday and Thursday on Fox at 7 p.m.

How do you think the tone of “American Idol” will change now that Simon Cowell is no longer a judge?

I think having a rock legend like Steven Tyler and a Latina like Jennifer Lopez is going to bring a different audience to the show. I think the chemistry these new judges are going to have is going to have a more professional vibe. They’re going to work more together instead of arguing. I think they’re really going to work to help these performers.

When you were on the show during Season 7, what was it like to perform on stage each and every week?

It was sometimes very overwhelming. At the same time, it was amazing because music can say so much. Having the opportunity to share that with so many people was really neat. I don’t even know what a million people looks like, so to think about that many people watching me sing, I couldn’t believe it. It was a huge blessing.

What do you think about these new rule changes for Season 10? Now contestants can audition for the show online instead of in front of the judges.

I think they’ll be able to get a lot more people because there are those that aren’t able to afford going to auditions in different cities. Sometimes their schedules don’t work for them if they have jobs. I had to quit my job to go for my audition. I think it’ll allow the show to find a whole new group of talented singers.

You’ve been singing your entire life, so I’m just wondering, did you wake up one day freaking out when you’re voice started changing?

(Laughs) I think my voice has gotten a little lower, which is a good thing. But I just naturally have a high voice. I used to sing probably an octave higher when I was 13 than I do now. I think part of the way I sound is because of the paralyzed vocal cord thing I went through, but it’s part of the reason that I sing the way I sing. It’s been a blessing in disguise. But I never really noticed a big change to my voice. (Laughs)  I think I’m still waiting for it to get a bit lower.

You sang at the Tejano Music Awards last year and also for the Somos El Mundo Haiti relief benefit. When did your Latino background become something you embraced as a performer?

I think it’s something that I’ve always felt close to. I’ve always felt close to my mom’s side of the family and that culture. I love how the Latino culture is family orientated. Everyone has big hearts and is very emotional. Plus, I grew up with that music (Archuleta’s mother is a salsa singer and dancer from Honduras). I’ve always kept that in my mind since I was little. The first language my mom would speak and sing to us was Spanish. I wish I was more fluent than I am, but I always take pride in my roots.

Will you be participating in the new season of “American Idol” in some capacity?

I would like to. In the last two years they’ve invited me to come back. It’s always been unexpected. I would love to come back. It’s always fun to see the people who work on the show. It’s fun to reminisce and let the new contestants know they can talk to someone who knows what they are going through.