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'American Idol' winner Trent Harmon: There are only two jobs I would consider tougher than surviving 'Idol' boot camp


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/13/2016 

American Idol winner Trent Harmon was crowned the show's fifteenth-season champion last week and has been hitting the ground running ever since.

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Idol host Ryan Seacrest declared Trent, a 25-year-old waiter from Amory, MS, the farewell season's winner during last week's live two-hour finale broadcast on Fox.

Trent received more home viewer votes following the final performance show than runner-up La'Porsha Renae, a 22-year-old call representative from McComb, MS.

During a recent conference call with reporters, Trent talked about his Idol experience and victory. Below is what he had to say. Click here and here to read more.

Since all of the former Idol winners came back for the Season 15 finale, as well as many past contestants, did any of them give you advice about how to handle all of this?

Trent Harmon: I guess, thankfully, most of the Idols that I got to talk to, they appreciated [my talent]. They said, "Man, you seem pretty genuine. Don't ever, ever quit that. Don't ever get out of that head. Don't ever, ever quit that." And they didn't give me very much advice in the moment.

I was lucky enough to exchange numbers with a lot of people that I never thought I'd have their name in my phonebook, and they said, "Look here, text me." And I could tell that they meant it. They said, "Text me at any time of the day or night, ask me a question."

I got to exchange numbers with Jordin Sparks, and Ruben Studdard. It was just surreal for them to reach out and say, "Hey man, you're the last one. We want to help you any way that we can." And I think they mean it.

Will you be moving to Nashville? Is that a possibility for you?

Trent Harmon: I don't know at this point. I'm sure that I will float between Nashville and Mississippi and Arkansas for quite a while. I've been doing the float between two states for the last four or five years, and I've gotten pretty good at it if you manage your time wisely.

But I'm down to live wherever I'm happy. If that happens to be in Nashville for the next few years, then I'll live in Nashville. If that happens to be Belize, then I'll live in Belize. 

You came into the competition singing music on the soulful side, but you'll be recording as a country/soul artist. Could you talk a little bit about your relationship to country? Did you grow up listening to country music? Do you have a country artist that you enjoy?

Trent Harmon: That's a good question. I was just telling Mr. [Scott Borchetta] last night. I said, "Man I don't think you fully realize how much country music I listen to, because whenever I really got the opportunity to pick the song myself, 100% myself, I was doing country songs on the show."

Now that was only sprinkled in very, very rarely because we always get to pick our own songs, but there would be influence from other people as well. But I sang a couple Chris Stapletons, and at that point, I think it was fully realized that this guy is confusing enough as it is, he talks so country but then he sings like a soul singer -- well now he's actually singing country. 

I've always enjoyed all the classics. I love Conway Twitty. I've always been a big Conway Twitty fan. I'm a big Elvis fan. Elvis did country. I'm a Ray Charles fan. Ray Charles made a country album. So that's kind of a point in case right there.

Define what country is in 2016. I mean, Ray Charles kind of broke that statement a long time. Justin Timberlake's working on a country album. So, I feel like being able to sing multiple genres is going to help me moving forward to make a country album that would be palatable to a lot of different people.

Are you also a songwriter? And if so, do you plan to co-write for your album?

Trent Harmon: I am a songwriter, but that will be decided by the powers that be. I don't always have to have the best idea coming from myself. I just want the best idea. So, we'll have to see where it leads us.

Did you happen to meet Simon Cowell, and did he give you any advice?

Trent Harmon: Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Mr. Simon, and I am still pretty upset about that to tell you the truth.  I was in the dressing room watching it from my television in the dressing room, so I really can't give a lot of input to that. I wanted to meet him real, real bad -- worse than you probably know -- but I didn't get the chance to.

In your redo performance, you sang "Chandelier" again and it really seemed to seal the deal for you in this competition. Did anything stand out that Sia said to you that you'll take with you for the rest of your career? 

Trent Harmon: Sia said that she wrote this song from a state of struggling with alcoholism and that if I had a family member that struggled with alcoholism, that would be a route that I could sing that song from. And while I did lose a family member this year that struggled with alcoholism, I tried to go down that path and it was just too morbid. It was too sad. I didn't want to. I sang it from a happy state.

When I asked her, I said, "Can I do that? This is your song." She said, "This is your song. For 90 seconds, this is your song. You sing it however you want to sing it." And I don't think she meant for that just to apply to "Chandelier." I think she was telling me to take that forward for the rest of my life. 

Even though I might be doing a cover song at some point, don't sing it just as from the same head that the person that wrote it or performed it and made it popular. Pick something from it. Find a lyric in it.

My favorite lyric from the Parson James song that I sang last week was, "It's enough of a fight just staying alive anyways," and I told Parson that. I said, "Man, that's my favorite line in the song," and he said, "Really? That's crazy." You just find a line that pulls to you, pulls on your heart strings, and you go with it.

I know you had said you didn't take your gift for granted and worked harder than anyone, but I guess, what was the main reason for that? I'm not sure why you felt the need to do that.

Trent Harmon: I am fully aware that I have a God-given ability, but I didn't want to coast off of that. I didn't want to coast for the remainder of the season after my first audition.

I didn't want to just coast off of a pretty voice. I think if I had, I may not have made it pretty deep into the competition, but I knew that if I pushed myself and I worked hard and worked really, really, really, really hard, I could be better than just a pretty voice.

I practiced interviews, I practiced wardrobe, I practiced how to hold the microphone. I didn't just take for granted having the ability to sing. I practiced every different angle that I could to be good -- to be good and then to be better and then to be the best. 

It was heartwarming to watch you thank your family and God when you won last night. How did your love for God and family play a role when you're singing, and how did that come through in your performances, with all of those emotions?

Trent Harmon: First of all, if anyone has made it through what I consider -- I'd say the only two jobs that I would consider to be tougher than making it through American Idol boot camp, which is what I have aptly named it after the show's been over, would be a preacher and/or a soldier. That would be the only two jobs that I would consider to be harder than what we just completed. 

But if you can go through what we just did and not believe in something -- I happen to believe in God, and then I would pray.  I had a really simple prayer, I would say, especially when I had Mono because I was pretty quarantined from the rest of the cast. I would say, "Well, it's just me and you. It's just me and you, God."

I kept that on my brain at all times when I didn't have anybody else. I didn't have my parents out here with me, and it was just me, so I feel like if you could make it through this competition without believing in something, I wouldn't say I'm impressed, I would say I'm kind of scared because I don't know what you are. You're super human, because I couldn't have done it without Him. That's for sure.

Trent, any final remarks?

Trent Harmon: I know it's cliche, but thank you... Thank you for taking the time to do this interview today. Thank you to anyone that voted. I only have one phone and one tablet, and I did not do this. All I did was show up and sing.

The things that were written in the press and the people that voted multiple and multiple and multiple times across different respective states in the United States, they did this. And I just want to make them proud, and I appreciate it.

To read more from Trent's post-American Idol interview, click here and here.



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