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'American Idol' eliminee Tristan McIntosh: 'Idol' was a dream come true and I really came into my own


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/24/2016 

American Idol determined its farewell season's Top 5 finalists and eliminated Tristan McIntosh in the process during the most recent broadcast on Fox.

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Tristan, a 15-year-old student from Nashville, TN, was ousted from the competition after judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. chose to save fellow bottom-two member Sonika Vaid, a 20-year-old student from Martha's Vineyard, MA, instead.

It marked the second time in a row that Sonika had landed in the bottom.

During a Friday conference call with reporters, the day after Tristan's elimination, the singer talked about her American Idol experience. Below is what she had to say. Click here to read more.

How has your military community and your church community supported you during this high-pressure journey on American Idol?

Tristan McIntosh: The military community is awesome and they definitely supported me and just really helped to get people to vote. I've made it this far because of my church community and just everybody who supports me, and my church community was awesome. In my feature last night, they were there with a whole bunch of signs, and it was amazing.

What advice do you have for the remaining contestants if they too find themselves in the bottom going forward?

Tristan McIntosh: There's no longer a bottom anymore, but just to enjoy yourself throughout the whole experience. Because think of this, there's not really that many people who've made it into the Top 5, and they're one of them. So, just enjoy the experience.

Your mother was an integral part of your story all the way back to auditions. I want to know how she was taking it last night after the show, because she's your biggest supporter.

Tristan McIntosh: I feel like my whole family took it really well, because just to be in the Top 6 is an honor in itself, and it's amazing to be here. It's a great experience, especially at [age] 15. This, as I've been saying, it's not the end, it's just the beginning. It was a great place to start my career.

What were you planning on performing if you had made it through to next week?

Tristan McIntosh: I was planning to perform "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi.

Where does your love of country music come from? What are your major influences?

Tristan McIntosh: I feel like one of my major influences for my love of country would definitely be my grandfather, because he was the one who's always loved country music before I was born and just really got me into it.

Then when I was younger, he introduced me to some of the artists and some of the songs, and I really fell in love with them and just listened to them and would sing them around the house all the time. So, I would have to say my grandfather.

Did you ever consider being a pop singer or were you ever interested in singing pop tunes?

Tristan McIntosh: You know, I feel like I always considered everything as an artist, and people would always pin me to do pop music, but in the end, I just always wanted to do country. It always came back.

How difficult was it for you during the competition to choose songs? Did you feel pulled in different directions?

Tristan McIntosh: Initially, I was not very sure of myself or my song choices, but as the competition progressed, I really came into my own and really stood up for my choices and was really just very confident in what I chose and felt like my voice would sound best with. So, the competition really helped me find a sense of just my own artistry. 

Were there times, say earlier in the competition, when you just went with the flow compared to later on, when maybe you stood up for yourself or fought harder for certain songs you wanted to do?

Tristan McIntosh: I would say that in the beginning, you're kind of like, "Oh yeah, let's just do this. Maybe it'll sound good." And you're just experimenting and you're not really thinking about how it will affect you in the end. 

But as I went on, I became more self-aware of the songs I was choosing and how I would connect to them and how, when I connected to them, how they looked -- not just how they felt. Performing those songs really made me feel confident about myself, so I kept choosing songs that made me feel that way.

Why did you want to sing a Bon Jovi song next? That seems like a departure from the music you've been covering on the show.

Tristan McIntosh: A few weeks earlier, I had just been looking over a list of songs because, you know, you always should have songs prepared for the weeks ahead -- be proactive. But, I saw that one and I'm like, "What's this song?" Because I like Bon Jovi, and I just haven't heard that song.

So, I was listening to it and I'm like, "This would be a great song to slow down." So, I started practicing it, and it just kind of happened, and somebody suggested it on the Idol request, and I was overjoyed and I decided to cover that song.

What was your favorite song to perform and why?

Tristan McIntosh: Throughout the whole competition, my favorite song that I performed was probably "Go Rest High" by Vince Gill. It was my favorite because I really was attached to it and the melody and the piano, and it just all really came together.

What does American Idol mean to you, maybe having grown up watching it and now having been a contestant of the show?

Tristan McIntosh: American Idol was, literally, basically a dream come true because as I was performing, I got a letter from my old English teacher that when I was younger, I said that I was going to be on American Idol because I was watching it and I was going to be on it. So, it was really cool to be able to audition for it and get as far as I did.

Who do you think will be the last winner of American Idol?

Tristan McIntosh: Honestly, every single person on that stage deserves it. They're just amazing people and amazing performers and artists, and any of them would make a great final Idol.

Was there ever anything the judges said that led you in another direction in terms of song choice the following week?

Tristan McIntosh: I definitely took one of their comments as just to be more comfortable on stage.  As I became more comfortable as the rounds progressed, I really felt more confident as a performer and as an artist, and that’s really going to help me.

You are on the final season of American Idol, a big historical season. Has that sunk in? Has that resonated with you?

Tristan McIntosh: Honestly, I'm just taking everything day by day. It's amazing, and just to have had this opportunity was great, because I met so many great people and just the amazing teams that worked with me. I just can't explain how grateful I am to have had this opportunity...

Every week was really fun because I got to spend it with great people. All the contestants are amazing people, and they always make me laugh. Every week that I spent with them was amazing.

Did you get to talk to Adam Lambert at all the day he performed on the show?

Tristan McIntosh: Adam was backstage with us for maybe three minutes, and those three minutes were amazing, because he's a very kind person and very upbeat. He gave us good advice and was really nice to us.

Any final remarks?

Tristan McIntosh: Well, I just want to thank everybody who supported me, and it's been amazing. As a musician, I really just want to make country music for people who really feel the music and it won't just be meaningless, it'll have a meaning and it'll be appropriate for young girls. [I] just [want] to be able to sing on stage and I just really want to make a difference in the country community.

To read more from Tristan McIntosh's post-Idol interview, click here.



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