Alexis Grace says the hardest part of her American Idol journey was being away from her daughter -- however the ousted eighth-season finalist also feels it would have been worth it to stay in the competition so she could have participated in the summer tour that will follow the season.

"Being away from my family, my daughter especially, that was tough because I went from being a stay at home mom and being with her everyday to not seeing her at all, hardly talking to her.  So it was really tough to be away from her," Grace told reporters during a Thursday conference call. 

"It's a sacrifice, but I want to be in this business for as long as I can.  I'm going to make the sacrifices no matter what I'm doing, if it's American Idol tour or it's my own tour or whatever.  But that's what I wanted to do.  I wanted to take care of my family and provide for them and so I really wanted to do that."

The 21-year-old from Memphis,TN was eliminated from Idol's eighth season during last Wednesday night's live results show based on the 31 million home viewer votes cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance episode that saw the Top 11 finalists perform country songs in a tribute to the Grand Ole Opry.

Grace performed Dolly Parton's "Jolene," and while she stood by the song selection in hindsight, she added that she had considered singing something a little more modern.

"I did consider doing a Carrie Underwood song, but there were already two other people who sang Carrie Underwood, so I felt that it would be too much Carrie Underwood in one night," she said.  "So then I went with 'Jolene' because that was a really beautiful song.  I loved the lyrics.  I like the singer and so I thought it was a good song for me to do."

In addition, Grace said she also thought about playing the guitar during her performance -- an idea she ultimately rejected only to subsequently have it suggested by judge Randy Jackson.

"I was actually thinking about doing in on 'Jolene.'  I wasn't sure of myself and when you get up there with your guitar and you're nervous and you mess up and I was just afraid that that might happen and it might be one of those nights," she explained.  "So I wanted to stay away from any accidents happening."

After being told by Idol host Ryan Seacrest that she was the third eighth-season finalist eliminated, the newly introduced "The Judges' Save" rule twist almost came into play when Simon Cowell revealed that she was the bottom three vote-getter the judges had previously admitted they were considering saving.

"I liked the fact that they told me that they were thinking about saving me because they let me know that they actually believe in me and that they think that I can do it," she told reporters.

"It was flattering.  I was really happy. I just wish that I could have done a better job than I did.   But in all honestly, I don't know if they still would have chosen me, just because it's so early in the game.  I feel like they would probably want to use the save for later on in the show."

Grace told reporters she "could feel" that she was going to be among the bottom three vote getters before the results show even started, and found it a "little bit" concerning when Jackson failed to remember her name right before her ouster was revealed.
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"I think maybe that's just because that's just his personality maybe," she explained.  "Maybe not because I'm forgettable, hopefully not, but yes, I did make a face when he said Allison.  I was like hmmm, he means Alexis." 

Grace was one of the first eighth-season semifinalists to learn she had become a finalist, and she said the subsequent two-week hiatus between her performances had both pros and cons.

"I relaxed a lot and made sure I got some sleep.  I took it easy and had a good time while I was here with everybody and practiced," she told reporters about her downtime. 

"It was easy, but at the same time it kind of got me off my game a little bit, but it was very nice to sit easy and watch the show."

The Idol judges were largely fans of Grace's singing during her time in the competition, however they often commented on her look -- with Cowell stating it needed to be dirtied up if she wanted to last long.  Grace said she understands why she received that comment while other finalists did not.

"I think because they saw something in me at the beginning that, I don't know, that was a little edgy, but I hadn't quite touched on it yet," she explained. 

"Especially when I sang, they were like, 'Wait a minute, that doesn't look right.  You don't look like you can sing like that and I think they wanted me to really become an artist and they helped me do that.'  So I think that's what the whole dirty it up thing was about."

Grace said she plans on keeping the edgy look -- although the pink highlights she added to her hair may not stick around much longer.

"I might change the pink highlights a little bit, though, and turn them into something else.  I'm always into changing up hairstyles and trying new things, but yes, definitely keep the edgy look," she told reporters.  "I think that's what got me here besides singing, but I think it did help a lot, so definitely."

Despite thinking that the edgy look helped her reach the Top 13, Grace added she's unsure if she was able to connect with viewers.

"That's something I guess I'll never really know or find out," she said.  "But it gave me a little bit of a reality check a little bit and let me know what's up with American Idol viewers and let's me know that I need to do to step up my game a little bit."

Grace said she learned a great deal from competing on Idol, including that any dream is achievable.

"I learned that if you want to do anything in life, if you want to pursue a dream, that you have to work hard at it and believe in yourself for one thing and just have fun with whatever it is that you want to do," she told reporters.

"I think I'm going to take away a lot from this experience.  I know who I am.  I know what I want to do, what career path I want to take.  It's given me a lot of confidence in myself to go out there and be a singer and pursue it.  So it's giving me a lot and I can't wait to see what's next."

After she returns home to spend time with her family, Grace said she plans on focusing on her music career.

"I'm going to get to work and start talking about recording some music and trying to get it out there and just continue singing," she told reporters before describing what her debut album might sound like.

"I think kind of like some soul mixed in with blues and country.  I kind of like the three combined together.  Yes, maybe some, I don't know, like Jaw Stone mixed with like Carrie Underwood with Sheryl Crow or something like that."