Candice Glover sounded so serene as she took reporters' questions Friday afternoon, you'd never know that, mere hours before, she'd been declared "American Idol's" Season 12 winner -- the show's first female winner since Jordin Sparks took the win back in Season 6.
But don't let Glover's chill demeanor fool you into thinking she's not excited. The 23-year-old R&B singer from St. Helena Island, S.C., who'd auditioned for "Idol" twice -- in Seasons 9 and 11 -- before returning to go all the way this season, is thrilled to be pulling together her first album. It will be released on July 16, earlier than those of the show's past winners, "while I'm still fresh in people's minds," Glover says. And she can't wait to embark on the "American Idol" tour on June 29 with the rest of the top 11.
"I'm looking forward to singing and not having to worry about being judged or eliminated or getting votes," she says. "Just singing for the fans." Clearly, she has a lot of them.
Here's what else Glover had to say:
On why she kept trying out for the show after being cut twice: I definitely was hurt and brokenhearted when I got cut, but for some reason, even though I kept saying I wasn't coming back, I kept thinking, "Well, maybe this time it'll work." I would always say no, but then I would find myself looking at auditions again online … I'm so glad it worked.
On what she did to prepare before coming back this year: I listened to every single genre of music out there and got my musical knowledge up and just focused on being myself more and being different and not worrying about being accepted. In the previous two years, I cared about that a little bit more than I should have, and I think that's why it didn't really work out. This time I was confident and it worked out.
On the challenges of being shy and in the spotlight: It was difficult to be on a popular show, being shy and reserved, because you had all these bubbly people [in the competition] that are so fun… People tend to gravitate to the ones that are more excited. I'll be excited, but you would never know it from looking at my face because I'm such a reserved, laid-back person. But I think ["Idol"] brought out the inner crazy in me and brought me out of my shell.
On her response to being on only Mariah Carey's top-three contestant list – and not those of the other judges -- at one point in the competition: I was definitely hurt that Mariah was the only one that picked me [during top seven week], but at the same time I feel like that week I had one of my weaker performances, so I understood … [And] it gave me the boost to do my best the next week.
On whether she has a favorite judge: I don't know that I have a favorite judge, but I do know I connect more with Randy [Jackson] because he's been there the whole time … and he's seen me grow. I look forward to his opinion as well as Mariah Carey's, because she's been doing this forever and knows what it's like. [But] they all bring something good to the table.
On what she might want to splurge on, now that her career is off and running: Well, I mean, I got a car [from "Idol" sponsor Ford] … Now that I think about it, I have some bills that need to be paid.
On what her parents said to her before and after the finale: Before the show they said, "Whatever happens, you've done a good job. Top two is definitely an accomplishment, and don't be sad if you don't win." … And after the show they just said how proud of me [they were], and we just sat there and realized that I actually came on the show a third time and won. It was just an amazing feeling. We just all soaked it in.
On her grandmother's response: She was pretty speechless … She was really overwhelmed … She almost passed out.
On whether, going into the final results show, based on the judges' feedback, she thought she'd win: I don't know. Because the judges, when they give you good critiques, they're not the ones who are voting. They give you their input, but at the end of the day, it all depends on your fans. And [runner-up] Kree [Harrison]'s amazing. So when we were waiting for the result to be called, we were saying to each other. "You won" … "No, you won." We had no idea what was going to happen. America's so unpredictable sometimes.
On what she's learned about herself as an artist: I've learned I'm very different and that some of the ideas I have are really odd to people -- like doing a Drake song ["Find Your Love"]. I surprised a lot of people by doing [a song by a rap artist]. And I've learned I need to take those ideas on full force and go with them and not hide behind trying to do what I think America loves. I think the previous seasons I fell short because I was so worried [about pleasing other people]. But this year, I realized I'm different and I need to embrace it.
On how she felt before her duet with Jennifer Hudson: I was nervous. I didn't know if I was going to be able to keep up. I thought it was going to suck, actually. I called my vocal coach, Michael Orland, and I said, "Can we please practice one more time? Because I don’t think that I'm good enough to be up there and do this." He said, "I don't think we have time to practice, just go over it in your head and everything will be fine." I was so nervous and scared, but I'm really glad I got a chance to do that with her.
On dream collaborations: I would love to collaborate with [Jennifer Hudson] if she's willing to do it. She's so phenomenal, and I look up to her. And people like Jazmine Sullivan, who's my favorite singer of all time, and Kim Burrell and even Drake and Nicki Minaj.
On how she doesn't want to get boxed into a single style: I'm definitely focusing on not being put in a box. I want to be able to be broad and … do my own thing and not [have people be] like, "Oh, she's just the R&B diva." The single I have out now is R&B with a touch of pop, and pop is something nobody expected me to do. I want to keep that unexpected aspect going.
On her goals now: Having an album is a pretty good goal. And [I'd like] to model my career after Jennifer Hudson's and be in movies and actually go further than music. I would love to do something like that.
On making Nicki Minaj cry: I think she knows what it's like to have your career take off after coming from just living a normal life and having to pay your bills and stay on top of things. We had that moment because I know how it feels to work a 10-hour job and want your music to work but then have all different things stopping you. She also talked about my confidence; that's also something I used to struggle with.
On when she thought she might win: When I first auditioned, Nicki said, "If you don't make it to the last round of this entire competition, then something is definitely wrong." That stuck with me throughout the whole competition. I thought, I just have to make it to the last round. I just want to make Nicki – and my family – proud ... Ever since then, I thought, OK, this is going to turn out to be something good.
On her childhood dreams of becoming a famous singer: I would be in the living room when no one was home, blasting the music. I imagined a sea of people below me reaching for my hand and being on a tour or in a place with 7,000 people, like I was this past week. I fantasized about what it would feel like to have people ask for your autograph. And it's finally happening.
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