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Stephanie Edwards dishes about her 'American Idol' experience


By Christopher Rocchio, 03/23/2007 

Every once in a while, people get that sinking feeling in their stomach indicating something bad is about to happen.  Unfortunately for Stephanie Edwards, she got that feeling following her Tuesday night performance on American Idol.

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"I think that I just had a feeling that I was going to be in the bottom, just because of what the judges said about my performance.  And I was right," the newly eliminated sixth season Idol finalist told reporters during a Thursday media conference call. 

Idol judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul were somewhat critical of the 19-year-old Savannah, GA native following her performance of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" on Tuesday night, which she believes played a role in her becoming the second finalist eliminated from Idol's sixth season.  Jackson called Edwards "a brilliant up tempo singer," but thought she struggled with the ballad she performed; Abdul thought Edwards' "spirit of having fun might be drifting a little bit;" while Cowell missed Edwards' "passion" and "rawness."

"I would have definitely chose an upbeat, like faster song, just because the judges said they like me singing upbeat songs better, so I would have done that differently, definitely," said Edwards.  "It was the song I think.  [Voters] would have related better if I did a faster, upbeat song, I think, which the judges even said they like to see me do and I think that my fans probably like to see me do.  So they didn't like it and they didn't vote."

Edwards said part of the reason she decided to choose a ballad for Tuesday night's performance was because of all the comparisons the judges were making with her and fellow finalists Melinda Doolittle and Lakisha Jones.

"The judges did definitely compare me to Lakisha and Melinda.  I think that's where I kind of started trying to sing ballads and show off more vocals," said Edwards.  "I should have just stuck to what I do best, which is put on a show and just perform more and not so much of all the belting and everything.  So I think I just kind of lost myself in that whole mix of being compared to them.  I just never quite found it in time before America voted me off."

While Edwards said she didn't think it was fair the judges compared her to the two other singers, she quickly added, "they are able to compare whoever they want to compare; they're the judges."

"When I first heard [Jones and Doolittle], I thought they were great, great singers, great vocalists.  I just didn't think that I would be compared to them because I thought we were all so different and we had such different styles.  I just thought that we were totally different and I never would have guessed that I would have gotten compared to them," said Edwards.  "I just felt that I kind of lost myself in the mix of [the judges] comparing me to other contestants.  I was trying to please the judges, and I should have just pleased myself and pleased America obviously, because they're the ones that are voting.  It was up to them in the end.  I just lost myself, I think."

Seemingly unhappy with the comparisons she received to other Idol finalists, Edwards admitted she and Jones did have something in common following Tuesday night's performances.

"[Jones and I] both got kind of like bad responses from the judges and we both were just telling each other, 'Smile.  Keep your head up and don't worry about it.'  I told her that I thought I would probably be going home the next day and I told her that she had nothing to worry about basically," said Edwards.  "So before I left, she came and she gave me a hug and she just told me that she loved me and that God bless and that I'm going to do big things.  It was really emotional.  Like I said, me and her both were just kind of like bummed out after the show, but you've got to just keep on trucking.  She's not going home, so I told her to bring it next week, you know."

Edwards also revealed that going into the competition, she was more nervous about America sizing her up to two established singers instead of other finalists.

"That's what I was scared of, actually, going into the competition, the fact that I sounded like Beyonce [Knowles] and that people may compare me to [Idol 3 winner Fantasia Barrino]," said Edwards.  "But I don't think that it worked against me.  I think people are big fans of them.  So if somebody is similar to them that they are okay with it, they like them, they like that person because they remind them of their favorite artist.  So I don't think it worked against me."

Having made it through auditions, Hollywood Week and the semifinals, Edwards said there was tension on Tuesday night. 

"You really wanted to make Top 10, so you could go on tour, so it was definitely added pressure.  People were more focused I think this week, too," said Edwards.  "I know the tour is going to be great and, hopefully, I can go to see one of the shows or something.  It's a bummer.  I kind of try to look at the bright side of things and think maybe one day I'll go on tour.  Even if it's not with American Idol, maybe one day I'll be able to go on tour, if I get to just put out my own record, so, you know."

Unable to "pinpoint" who she thinks will emerge as the winner of Idol, Edwards said it's because the reality competition series is "just so unpredictable."  She wouldn't reveal who she thinks did worse then her or who performed better, only stating, "I felt that everyone actually did do very good this week.  And I thought I did just as well as anyone else did."

"I think that everyone that is in the Top 10 deserves to be there.  And as far as the Top 12, it's the same thing.  We were all good singers.  So to me there is not a worst... America is going to vote for their favorite and whoever they think they like the most," said Edwards.  "At this point in the competition, everyone is good.  Now it's about people voting for their favorites and who they like the most."

Overall, Edwards said she enjoyed her Idol journey.

"It was my first time being away from home, so definitely a great experience to live on my own with other American Idol contestants and to be on American Idol.  Very cool.  Great experience.  I'm happy that I got a chance to experience it," she said.


(Photo credit Fox)


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