Before running off to tonight’s Lakers playoff game (where I’m so gracious to have been invited as a guest of Lamar Odom), I caught up with Season 3 American Idol runner-up Diana DeGarmo for a phone chat about what she’s been up to and what she thinks of the current crop of Idol talent. By the end of the conversation she also agreed to guest blog her thoughts on Idol from a former insider’s perspective. Check back for that tomorrow!
In the meantime, here are some bits of what the lovely 21-year-old Miss DeGarmo has to say.
PS: Diana’s also working with fellow Idol finalist Kimberley Locke on getscouted.com 60 Seconds of Fame Talent Search where aspiring singers, musicians and dancers can log on to enter a chance to fly to a June event at the Hard Rock Café in NYC where Diana and Kimberley will be among the judges who determine who wins a chance to be in a national TV commercial!
Off to the Lake Show….Enjoy ;) xo
Congratulations on staying in the theater production Back to Bacharach and David (at the Music Box in Hollywood until May 17), were you nervous opening night?
Always. You want to do a good job and you want to make people proud...especially on opening night with people like Sheryl Crow and Steve Martin in the audience. You're thinking ‘oh my goodness, they're going to be watching me.’ I always want to do a good job for everybody.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Definitely the normal stretching, hair and make-up. I just try to remain calm because I can get worked up pretty easily. The whole time I just try to think, "You're going to be fine, you're going to do great." I have a little mantra and I listen to my ipod. I listen to this spirit spa music on my ipod, very Native American, very Zen. I just can totally zone out before I have to get up there and be totally crazy for an hour.
You live in Nashville now and your next album is going to be country? I am and I miss it terribly. Nashville is a wonderful town. It's a great in between place from where I grew up in Alabama and then NYC and LA. The country music industry is there and I love being part of that family. It's still small town so I feel at home and not in a huge city, because I can get a little overwhelmed by these huge cities after a while.
You think of yourself as more of a country star than a pop star?
Correct. Life makes you go full circle for a reason and I grew up listening to country music of course living in the south and at the time when I was first singing, country was the only kind of clean music that a kid can sing. Then pop music flew off of the chart with Nsync, the Backstreet Boys, and Christina Aguilera. That's when I was in middle school, which is a huge melting point for your life and I just thought that pop was where I wanted to be and of course, I did it on Idol and I enjoyed it. I just wasn't happy in the end and everyone said my writing was more country. Life just takes you back to where you want to be and I feel blessed that I can still do country music. I also used to have a wonderful career in musical theatre so it's kind of funny that both of those things are in the same human being. I can go home and my accent comes back and I feel more natural, but as a theater actor I can turn it off and play Maria from Westside story. It's a great life I'm living, I wouldn't want it any other way.
And you're working on John Rich now?
I am. He's a great guy. He's kind of funny, but he's a great guy.
Do you see Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift much in Nashville?
It's funny because I don't ever see any of the Idol girls or country girls per say, I run into more guys. I think because I'm more of a guy’s girl and I hang out with more of the guys. I'm a real laid back person and lot of those stars when they do come home, they probably don't go out as often because they're always on the road and stuff. But,its fun. I run into a lot of other idols. I still Bucky Covington. I see Bo Bice a lot.
Do you keep in touch with any idols from your season?
Matt Rogers and I, even though he was voted off eleventh, he and I keep on touch the best. He is like my big brother. We just bonded and I sang at his wedding a few years back. He's coming to see my show this week with his wife. We keep in touch the best out of everybody, but I made friends with idols from other seasons, Kimberly Locke and I are really close. Kimberly Locke and I are actually working together, or judging for getscouted.com, a website we teamed up with to launch their talent search, a sixty second talent search. She is going to be judging with me. That's the cool thing about being an idol and when you get friends, you think, "Why doesn't my friend do it with me?" We try to help out one another definitely.
Are you watching this season?
I'm keeping up with it. I Think Adam Lambert is awesome. I think it's going to come down to he and Allison in the end.
What do you think of the new judge format?
I think it's great, I really do. I respect Kara a lot. She worked very closely with me on my first album. She wrote the singe track and all of that stuff. She also helped with the main track of the album. She's just super, super talented. With my personal experience with her, she knows what she's talking about. I appreciate her opinion and I think she's really cool. It's nice to see another lady up there; we can't have the boys outnumbering the girls. That's not fair.
You were 16 when you were on Idol, did you go back and finish your senior year of high school?
Yes. Sometimes I feel like I aged ten years in the last five, but I think it's more knowledge. I have learnt so much after the first five years, which makes dating funny because anyone I meet I ‘m like, ‘oh, you don't know life at all.’ It's going to be ok. It's been good. I have been performing my entire life. I love singing and writing music. I love being in front of an audience and making people smile. Each thing I've done has been a little different, yet connects. I'm still really, really fortunate that five years post-Idol I can still call music my job, the best job on earth, and even in this economy I can still do it.
Did you go to your high school prom?
I actually went to three. I was making up for lost time. I didn't go to my Jr. Prom because of Idol and I didn't go to my senior homecoming because of the tour. I was very active in my school, I was a part of everything and I was upset that I couldn't be a part of that. So for prom I had a couple of guy friends who went to other schools that didn't have dates, so I said, "I'll go with you." For everyone I was completely different and I wore a different dress. I just had so much fun. I made up for lost time.
You look amazing. Do you work out a lot? Do you have a fitness regimen?
I hate working out, but I do it because I need to. When they say, "I enjoy working out," I just want to smack them because I don't like working out. I find ways to enjoy myself and be active without realizing that I'm being active. I am a big resistance band user because I can travel with them and throw them in my suitcase, they don't take up a lot of space or room. I live in a house in Nashville with five roommates, which is the first time I ever had a roommate so you have to live in communal space. I do a thing called hashing, which is technically running for beer. They call themselves a drinking club with a running problem, but I don't really participate in the drinking because I can't drink and run. You r
un between three and five miles. It's a little adventure. I think it's the most amazing thing ever. It's basically a little fraternity and I love doing it. I get a workout without realizing it. It's passion. I'm considered a hasher.
Do you have any nutrition tips?
Definitely. I'm not the most avid worker outer so I need to be more conscious of what's going into my body. I also noticed that it affects my voice a lot. I'm a total carnivore so if I'm having a show I can't have beef the same day as a show because it sits funny and it's harder to breath since it's harder to digest. The great thing is that I'm working with Kathy, the actress producing our show in LA and she is such a wonderful and healthy snacker so she's rubbing off on me. She always brings to work a little bag of snap peas, carrots, and jicama. I've gone into doing that too. It helps because I'm a munching girl. I like to be constantly eating so it's better to eat stuff that your body can process quickly.