Was there ever any doubt Lil Rounds would make it to the "American Idol" top 12? From the moment the judges were introduced to the mother of three, they were smitten with her "Fantasia-meets-Mary J. Blige" style, as Randy Jackson said.
And the 23-year-old from Memphis, Tennessee, secured her spot in the finals (along with Scott MacIntyre and Jorge Nuñez) by singing the Blige hit "Be Without You" on Tuesday night. We caught up with Lil to talk about her bond with Simon Cowell and what her kids have started calling her:
Q: The "Idol" audience was pretty sure you would make it through to the top 12. Were you as confident?
A: The whole day yesterday, I was really nervous. I felt like I did really well. I put my best foot forward, so I didn't have any regrets. I liked the fact that the judges did give me some really positive feedback, but in the end, it's still up to America. So, yes, I was really nervous. Ryan went ahead and got me out the way, thank God. [Laughs.] But when he told me to stand up, I was still a nervous wreck, and then when he said, "Congratulations," I was jumping for joy. I was really nervous, though, because you don't know what America wants until he reveals the results. It was great news.
Q: Simon called you "brilliant" after your first performance. Are you happy to have him on your side?
A: With Simon, I feel like he's an honest person, and I think so far, I've been staying consistent as far as going out there and putting my best foot forward and singing with heart and with feeling. What comes from the heart reaches the heart — and Simon Cowell has a heart! [Laughs.] I feel like as long as I continue to keep going out there and doing my best, he'll continue to hopefully keep telling me good things. But if a day comes when he's like, "Lil, that wasn't too hot," then I'll understand. He's gonna give his opinion regardless.
Q: Have you had a chance to watch back your performance?
A: I'm really my biggest critic. When I watch myself singing, I'm like, "Lil, make sure you hit that note!" "Lil, make sure you smile!," even though it's already happened.
Q: What has the experience been like for your husband and kids?
A: My husband, right after they showed my audition, he started getting noticed a lot. He said he had different people come up to him, and they're like, "Oh, my God, we saw your wife! We absolutely love her!" And the babies are just excited. They call me "American Idol Mama." [Laughs.] We're all happy about it.
Q: What made you pick "Be Without You" for your first live performance?
A: When it comes to song choice, you hear Simon and them say, "Why did you pick that song?" But me, personally, I have to go with songs that I can relate to. I really don't go with things like, "Ooh, this beat sounds cute," or things like that. I have to go with the meaning of the song, because I like to go out there and give my all, and if I'm able to relate to it and I'm feeling like I'm singing this from the heart, then you all will feel it. ... "Be Without You," I chose that song because it really does remind me of my husband, and I think about my children and my family, and I feel like people can relate to the fact that when you have loved ones, you think about how special they are to you, you don't wanna be without them.
Q: Is there a celebrity mentor you would love to work with on the show?
A: Stevie Wonder. I would just love to see him out there and have him even give me a couple pointers, if he wouldn't mind. I find him to be a really inspirational and inspiring man.
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