One of the long-standing “American Idol” rituals is the morning-after press conference with the ousted candidate from the night before.
Ashthon Jones proved a class act up until the end, someone not afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve at all times, and her exit, while somewhat expected given her “wild card” status, was nevertheless poignant.
The Nashville department store manager already made it clear she’s putting her old life behind her when she quit her job. The teenage runaway whose father died when she was 14, lived on the street for almost three years before being “saved,” becoming a Christian and, in her words, “turned my life around… That experience has made me a stronger person. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg to what I’ve gone through.”
On her future plans: I’ve worked all my life. Now’s the time to be the artist and performer that God put in me a long time ago. I just have to go on further in my career, and hopefully, opportunities are there waiting for me. I’m very excited about what’s to come. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I feel in my spirit it’s something great.
On what America missed in her: I just wanted people to see my personality. And I don’t think it showed that, but it’s OK because everything happens for a reason. I’m glad that the judges saw I could be a diva, but I didn’t want the world to see me as one, that I thought I was all that. I wanted them to see the confidence that I have comes from God. I was never timid on-stage. I’ve always engaged the crowd in my performances. I feel like America is going to see that now that I’ve moved on. And I can’t wait.
Watch Highlights From “Idol’s” First Elimination Night:
On whether she regrets picking Diana Ross’ “When You Tell Me That You Love Me”: I chose that song for a reason. I listened to all of Diana Ross’ songs, and that one, for some reason, spoke to me. It administered to me in a way that I could relate to my life, my experiences and my faith… the love that I have around me, from my fans and my family. The lyrics meant something to me. I didn’t understand why that song wasn’t a bigger hit. For Rodney Jerkins and Jimmy Iovine to turn it into a current R&B song, I thought was amazing. I couldn’t wait to get on the stage and sing it. America didn’t really feel it like I did, but hopefully, now that it’s on iTunes and people can download it, it will begin to touch them like it touched me. I believe that. I was destined to sing that song.
How Jennifer Lopez’ advice affected her: Jennifer always had something real to say that came straight from her spirit. She told me I’m amazing, I’ll go far, not to stop. Last night, she told me it’s all about the song. Make sure that first record is a hit before you put it out. Great songs are always remembered. They never go away.
On her fellow contestants: I never knew I had so many best friends. I lift them up, they lift me up. We cry on each others’ shoulders. That’s what it’s all about. Having people around you that are positive. Don’t read negative comments on the Internet. You have to stay focused. You have to have people around you who are constantly feeding great energy and faith into your spirit. In the end, that’s what will make you a great artist.
On her emotional reaction when she realized it was over: It really wasn’t pain, it was leaving the stage, and all the friends that I made. I had to let it our. I’m a very, very strong person, but sometimes you have to let it out, you have to show your emotions. I’m a real person just like America. I’m just Ashthon from Nashville. I cried because of all the things I went through, the experiences. I couldn’t believe I made it so far. But I left those tears on the stage.
On being the first person voted off: It’s not always a bad thing. It could be a good thing. Everything I went through on the show, I’m going to take it and put it towards my career. I don’t think anything is going to stop me. I feel it’s all in God’s timing. He has something better for me. I feel it in my spirit, and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen. I have to remind myself that some of the greatest artists on ‘Idol’ didn’t win, either. That has kept me sane and driven. I want to show the world who I am, and spread the love and faith. I want people to see me and say, ‘She’s my Idol anyway.’ You have to feel like you’re a winner anyway. That strength comes from God. I wanted to go out with a bang, and I think I did. The judges saw something in me that I didn’t know I had. I look at everyone on that show as superstars, and I feel I’m one, too. My fans will stick by my side through thick and thin, and that’s all that matters. It’s not about competing to have the most fans. It’s about finding your lane and learning who you are. I believe this helped me define the person and artist I can be.
On whether her emotionalism hurt her with the voters: I can only be myself. I’m not going to be a different person just for TV. I’ve got to constantly be me. Being myself and staying true to my beliefs will make me a winner in the end. This is just the start.