Haeley Vaughn. First time I saw her on AI I was fascinated. Her sound, her look, her stage presence were all unique for a 16-year old from Fort Collins, Colo. The thought was that she could go far.

Well, she did. That’s the good news.

Bad news was her ending on the show. The attempt at “Climb” was … well, atrocious.

And you kind of thought even she knew that during her exit (conference call) interview last Friday.

Still, the infectious smile, the bubbling personality … I don’t think we have seen the last of her. She seems to be honest in knowing she has a long way to go to develop her natural talent. And that’s a good thing.

During that interview, she mentioned her love of “Disney” about a dozen times so I think we all know where she would love to be headed in the near future.

Time will tell.

Here are some of her comments:

On Kara’s comment that she should take a year and work on her voice?

“I kind of agree with her. I think that more experience and more time working on my vocals would be good. Experience is always better, especially since I’m only 16, and this is my first thing I’ve done – ever. I never performed in front of millions of people before. I’ve never performed in front of 100.”

Did she feel the judges gave her conflicting advice?

“No not really. They didn’t necessarily mean that I was too young, they think my voice needs to mature, and I need to work on the technical aspects of my voice, and I think that they’re right. I think that there were moments in my songs when I was pitchy and I need to work on that.”

On the nerves of the contestants.

“The first week was really tough, and we were all really nervous and scared, and worried about our song choices. We were all just freaking out and trying to pick songs and make sure that America would like them. Nerves are always going to play a huge factor in what we do on the show.”

How did she pick her songs?

“The first week I sang “I Want to Hold Your Hand” which is one of my favorite Beatles songs, I played my guitar, I added my own pop country twist to it. I wouldn’t do anything different, but do it better. This week I did “The Climb” which is one of my favorite artists, and one of my favorite songs. That song definitely means a lot to me. If I were given the chance, I would just make it better, and work on my technicals– my voice sounding better, and not pitchy.”

Why didn’t she pick any country songs during the past two weeks?

“The songs I chose, I made them kind of pop country, so that was my whole thing, I wanted not to have to sing country every week to prove I’m a country artist. Carrie Underwood on her season, didn’t sing country music every week. She was very versatile and she chose songs from a different genre that she gave her country style.“

Did she get advice from any former Idols?

“I talked to Allison (Iraheta) when she came and performed and she just told me to stay true to who I am and keep doing my thing and just be really strong and confident.”

Would things have been different if Paula had still been a judge? Was Simon harsher?

“I think Paula was great, but I really appreciated the judges this season. I don’t necessarily think it would have been different if Paula were there. Simon was definitely harsh this season. I mean, he has reasons to be. All the comments he gave us were good and we would think about them, but sometimes he should soften the blow a little bit. But, that’s Simon Cowell, he’s been that way for nine years.”

What she was thinking while she watched her Idol journey?

“It was definitely hard. I was just thinking about my journey through the show, and everything I’ve done, and how far I’ve made it. It was really emotional and having to sing afterward was so hard, because I was just trying to get through the song. The lyrics really meant something to me.”

What’s next?

“I’m definitely going to keep working on my career, I’m going to keep singing, and hopefully, doors will open up for me and I’m a really big fan of Disney and hopefully there’s something there that I can work on.”

What would kind of thing would she like to do with Disney?

“I would love to be on the shows. My favorite show is Hannah Montana, because I love Miley Cyrus so much, that’s a really big inspiration for me. Being on Disney would be awesome, and performing with the artists would be great too, but also singing my pop country, and staying true to who I am.”

What kind of music does she want to make?

“Country music is definitely my genre – pop country and playing my guitar. If I was given a chance, I would definitely jump on it.”

Is she going back to high school?

“I think I might go back to high school, but if there are any other doors that open for me, I don’t know if I’ll go back to high school, or if I’ll just do my school online and focus on my career, which is really important for me right now. But, I’m going to finish school.”

 http://www.americanidol.com/videos/season_9/performances/haeley_vaughn_the_climb/?ref=ai9_contestants_profile_judge_comments