'American Idol' eliminee C.J. Harris: It was a little frustrating I was a bottom vote-getter so many times
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/29/2014
American Idol's thirteenth season eliminated C.J. Harris and determined the competition's Top 5 finalists during Thursday night's live results show.
C.J., a 23-year-old from Jasper, AL, became the eighth finalist sent home from American Idol's thirteenth season after he received the fewest home viewer votes cast following last week's Top 6 performance show, which was dubbed "A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit Rock 'N Roll."
During a Friday conference call with reporters, C.J. talked about his American Idol experience. Below is the first half of his interview. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.
What do you see your debut album being like? Is it going to be all country?
C.J. Harris: It's definitely going to have some country, and it's going to be a mix between country, blues, soul, and Southern rock. So, it's going to be a mixture of all, but I hadn't decided really which genre I'm going to just really stick to, but I'm swinging more towards the country industry.
What's the one piece of advice that the judges gave you that you'll take with you?
C.J. Harris: You know, just always stay true to who I am, and always just work hard. Hard work pays off at the end. It's not what you do right now, it's what you've done in the long run. So, I'm just going to keep working hard, as an artist.
What was it like to compete on Idol with Dexter Roberts, your friend from Alabama?
C.J. Harris: Well, I mean, it's been amazing. But me and Dexter just kind of looked at it as me, Dexter, and [Jessica Meuse] as together from Alabama. Just hope and pray for the best from each one of us, but we just kind of look at it as we're all artists trying to make it in this industry, and we've got to stay together.
You've been in the bottom two or bottom three about four times, I think. So, after a while, were you getting frustrated at all that you kept landing there or how did you feel about it?
C.J. Harris: I mean, yes, I got a little frustrated, but it just made me want to keep working harder. So, it really brought out the best in me.
I believe if I would've never been in the bottom three or bottom two, then -- you just never know. I believe everything happens for a reason. Put me in the bottom to just bring me up, make me want to work harder. So, that's what I'm really focusing on, is just working hard, man.
Last night on the show, we noticed Randy Jackson whispered something in your ear following your vote-off. What did he say?
C.J. Harris: Oh, he just told me to never give up, man, that I had an incredible talent. Just never give up, that he sees me doing big things. Just it's going to be all up to me.
Last night's farewell seemed to be one of the more emotional ones of the season. What's the hardest thing about leaving the show at this point?
C.J. Harris: It's just, you've come so far in the show to get cut at the Top 6. But, I mean, that's still incredible. You always want to see how far you can make it, and want to go further than that. But I'm extremely happy for the other ones, I don't hold anything -- or I'm not mad at anyone or anything.
I truly wish the best for them in their careers, and I get to look forward to playing with them this summer and having fun on the tour. So, it's going to be good.
What is your favorite memory that you can share with us from the last three months of being out there on the show?
C.J. Harris: My favorite memory is actually when I first got in front of the celebrity judges for the first time. It was unreal, because I've never really met anybody famous before in person, and I got to come up to them and talk to them. So, that memory from the beginning was just outstanding to me.
And just to show how far you've come, a year ago or two years ago, financially could you have even afforded to buy tickets for your immediate family to the summer tour?
C.J. Harris: No. No, man, I was just barely trying to get by. Right before I came to American Idol, I was doing everything that I can to make it in the music industry, and American Idol came along and really just changed my life.
I was wondering how you felt about the judges' remarks about your pitch problems and whether you were aware that maybe you had pitch problems before? Also, have you been actively working on correcting those issues?
C.J. Harris: It was something before the show that I had never knew, that I sang sharp. I'm from a very small town, so I was playing for these people, and it's kind of a, "You love me," kind of situation, and I never really got a straightforward answer until I really got in front of some professional audience.
I'm glad they told me, because it was something I never even heard of. I'm self-taught with everything, so it's something that I'm definitely going to have to work on, for sure.
Last night when you were in the bottom two, and Ryan Seacrest asked you if you had any regrets, you said you might have picked a different song. I was wondering, what went into your decision making when you chose to sing "American Woman" and the Zach Brown Band song?
C.J. Harris: When I decided to do "American Woman," I thought it would be a great song for my voice. But I just had a hard time remembering all the lyrics and getting up there and singing it without thinking too much. So, that was one of my main problems, was just thinking too much.
The Zach Brown song, it's a great song. It's got a great melody and a great feel to it. It's just the key that I was singing, it was just too low for my voice. It didn't have the cry and the emotion in it like I wanted it to, and I felt like I could have done better.
So, your mom and girlfriend, they've been in the audience on several occasions. How does the experience of performing change when people you know are in the audience? Does it give you more confidence or does it make you more nervous?
C.J. Harris: Yes, it gives you kind of a peace, and you can kind of look at them and it kind of feels like if you were sitting there on your couch, or you're playing at home. It helps to have someone out there in the audience that you know, but it just made me proud to have my mom there and my sister there, and it meant a lot to me.
Would you have picked different songs on Wednesday, if you could go back and do it again?
C.J. Harris: Yes, I would. I mean, I would, but then again -- yes, I probably would have. Maybe not with the "American Woman" song, but the Zach Brown song. I think I could've picked a better country song to fit my voice.
I just want to know how you're feeling right now, after such a successful journey on American Idol?
C.J. Harris: Well, my brain is still going 100 miles an hour, and I'm off a couple of hours of sleep. But I'm doing great this morning, and I'm just happy that I made it that far.
Above is the first half of C.J.'s Friday conference call with reporters. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.