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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 7

Ousted finalist Chikezie Eze talks about his 'American Idol' experience


By Christopher Rocchio, 03/28/2008 

Chikezie Eze was able to find the chivalrous silver-lining in his American Idol ouster.

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"I was glad that none of the other guys had to go home," Eze told reporters during a Thursday conference call.  "That's probably the hardest part of the show, saying goodbye to your friends.  I mean things couldn't have gone better.  I didn't have to say goodbye to anybody and -- in all honesty -- no one had to say goodbye to me because they'll be seeing me again on the tour."

The 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA was eliminated from Idol's seventh season after "over 30 million" home viewer votes were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance episode broadcast that saw the Top 10 finalists perform songs from the year they were born.

Eze sang "If Only for One Night" by Luther Vandross, and judge Randy Jackson had said he "didn't love it" and criticized it for not being "that vibey Chikezie that I love with all that energy" and instead "just kind of boring."

Fellow judge Simon Cowell had agreed and also termed the way Eze had reached out and touched hands with the studio audience while performing "cheesy."

"You basically just do what you feel is right whenever you're on stage and you basically do all that stuff that you say, 'Oh that would be cool if I could do that,'" Eze explained of the gesture. "It's exciting.  I mean I've never heard people scream so loud.  It shocks you every time no matter what.  I mean some of these little girls can throw their voices like no one's business."

Eze was one of the more animated seventh-season finalists, constantly firing back when he disagreed with one of the judges' comments; jumping around the stage following a round of good reviews; and looking stressed when he knew his performance wasn't up to par.

"I tend to wear my emotions on my face most of the time, so if I'm nervous, you can usually tell," he said.  "I'd probably be like sweating without doing any kind of work, but I tend to be pretty happy because I just feel so blessed to be in this position -- to have this opportunity.  I'm really, really blessed."

Eze made it through to the sixth-season's Hollywood Round but his initial Idol journey didn't get any farther than that.

"That was probably what told me, 'Okay, there's something missing.  I know there is.  So what is it?'" he questioned.  "And I just went home and studied, studied, studied.  I studied music styles.  I studied artists and I would videotape myself performing and look over it and say, 'What's missing.  Why aren't people connecting?  Why aren't I connecting?'... I went home and as I said before I worked and I worked and I worked and I worked."

What Eze said he realized is that singing well wasn't good enough to get him into the Top 24.

"I came to this competition thinking, 'Okay, all you've got to do is sing,'" he explained.  "Then you realize, 'Hold on, that's what everyone else is doing.  So you sing, what else can you do?  Can you perform?  Can you work a stage?  Can you entertain?' That's the realization that I had to come to to basically step myself up and get to where I got."

Still, Eze said making the Top 24 was "all I expected to get out of it."

"So when I got there I was like, 'Wow, this is awesome.'  And it was so much easier.  Not to say that it's the easiest thing in the world.  It's very difficult, but it was easier than I thought it would be," he explained.  "I thought that I would have to be this person or look this way or act this way to get through, but I was just being myself and I made it."

Not only did he make it, Eze "kept going and going" and -- before he knew it -- he was a finalist.

"I worked as hard as I possibly could to get here and the rest wasn't nearly as difficult as what it took to get to that point.  You know I was just enjoying the ride from then on," he said.  "I learned that hard work pays off.  Perseverance pays off.  If you believe in something and you just fight with everything you have, you can get it."

In addition to being excited that he made the Idol tour that follows each season, Eze also already has his sights set on what type of music he'd like to make.

"I love the idea of fusion," he said.  "I love the idea of bringing together several different styles to make something new, make something fresh, make something people have never heard before.  I really respect artists who are willing to take risks with music and end up coming out on top because they believe in what they're doing and they're dedicated to it."

Eze also apparently hasn't sold himself short on what he can accomplish.

"In 10 years, I would like to see myself getting at least one Grammy.  That's for starters," he said.  "I really want to get started with my music career and get to work with that and start making albums and making music that makes me feel good and hopefully makes others feel good."

When asked if he'd entertain the idea of acting, Eze didn't think it sounded too far fetched.

"Why not?  Why not try everything, you know?" he said.  "I'm the type of person that I like to see what I can do.  I like to know what my boundaries are.  You know I'm always testing myself to see what I can accomplish."


(Photo credit Fox)


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