After nerves and the excitement of meeting Elton John got the best of her, 18-year-old Camile Velasco from Maui was the fourth contestant voted out of “American Idol.”
Q: So were you as uncomfortable onstage as it seemed?
Camile Velasco: I was just watching the tapes back. Initially I was — like, the very first week — but every week it got easier and easier and more fun. And if you noticed, the last two times, Simon didn’t comment on my being nervous at all.
Q: When you sang on the results show, you switched up the lyrics and sang something like, “… back to Maui.” Were you that convinced you were going home?
Velasco: I just wanted to do something fun. I just said, “This might be my last performance.”
Q: Describe your experience meeting Elton John.
Velasco: I was like, “All right, it’s so dumb, you’re not going to cry.” And then he walks in the room, and his presence is just so overwhelming and so powerful. He’s like a living legend. You can’t believe that he’s sitting right in front of you, and you grew up listening to him, and he’s got so many great songs. That’s the most starstruck I’ve ever been. We all had to sing our songs for him, and when I went, he kissed my hand and then I started crying again. I said, “I can’t do this right now.” And they skipped me. So I said, “Elton, if you touch my hand again, I’m going to lose it.” So I just sang it and it was great.
Q: Donald Trump recently said on “Oprah” that crying is a sign of weakness.
Velasco: I think crying is such an amazing thing. They say there is energy in your teardrops, so when you cry you release energy. And for me, if that’s how I feel, that’s how I’m going to express myself. I don’t think it’s a sign of weakness at all.
Q: Who were the biggest criers backstage?
Velasco: I never cried when I got backstage. I’ve cried at everything else. I know last week Simon told John Stevens he was horrible and he got really upset. They had to take him to the side and give him tissues and stuff like that.
Q: You took some beatings up there yourself.
Velasco: I did, you know. Gosh. My little sister would look at [the judges] like, “What are they going to say now?” And I’m too ashamed to say something back. But I take that and go backstage with it and say, “I’m going to do better next week, if I get the chance.” I felt that I got better and better each week.
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Q: Do you feel that having two singers from Hawaii in the competition helped or hurt your chances?
Velasco: I don’t think it did anything. If it actually did something, it [provided] support for each other up there, so we weren’t alone … and we both understood each other and knew where we were coming from.
Q: When you were choosing songs to sing, what things did you take into consideration?
Velasco: Songs that I like or songs that mean something to me. Usually the songs I sang were songs that my parents really liked, and that’s one of the reasons I sang them. Just songs that I could have fun with.
Q: Was there ever a song you wanted to sing but the producers couldn’t clear?
Velasco: For my very first week in group two, I wanted to sing En Vogue’s “Don’t Let Go (Love)” from the “Set It Off” soundtrack, but that didn’t happen.
Q: Lauryn Hill is your idol. Have you ever considered joining a rap group like the Fugees?
Velasco: That would be great. I’m down for anything. That’s actually a great idea.
Q: OK, we want credit for it!
Velasco: You got it.