At the conclusion of  Season 9 of American Idol, Crystal Bowersox was matched in the finale with a male contestant and although she was the odds-on favorite as Ryan Seacrest announced the winner and the obligatory confetti started to fall … guess what, she lost to Lee DeWyze.

Sound familiar Jessica Sanchez?

It certainly should, for Chula Vista’s Sanchez it was a different time (two years later this past May), but the same place (L.A.) and the same result (second place) when she was named as runnerup to Phillip Phillips.

Bowersox, who will be in San Diego on Oct. 27 to speak and perform at the Diabetes Conference and Health Fair at the San Diego Convention Center, had these words of wisdom for Sanchez during a recent phone interview from her home in Portland, Ore.

“There really isn’t a difference between winning Idol and finishing second. In fact, being in the Top 10 offers anyone a great opportunity and it becomes what you want to make of it. Be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else and always, always be kind to
everybody along the way.”

During her time on Idol it became well-chronicled that while she grew up in a small western Ohio town (Elliston), she learned music and the barebones art of performing as a busker in the Chicago train stations.

Since she was named second-best to DeWyze on the show has she ever seen such street performers during her travels and thought “that was me not too long ago?”

“Better than that,” she admitted. “I went back to some of the same spots in Chicago where performed and some of the same folks that I played with were there. One of them asked me: ‘Hey, how are you doin’? Where have you been I haven’t seen you in

Even Bowersox had to laugh at that comment. “But I always lean over and toss some money in their guitar case whenever I see a busker playing,” she said.

Her first album “Farmer’s Daughter” was of rock roots and released in 2010 on Jive Records. Her style? All over the musical map from rock to acoustic to indie folk to gospel to soul to country.

Bowersox, who was recently signed to a recording contract by Shanachie Entertainment and will release her second record and her debut on Shanachie in early 2013, received what she termed “a wakeup call” shortly after her stint on Idol.

“I didn’t watch Idol before I was on the show and I haven’t watched it since. But as soon as it ended, because of being on the show, I saw how powerful it is. I got the chance to perform at a concert in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in front of 80,000 people. That was quite an experience.”

Speaking about diabetes won’t be a first for Bowersox, who is a Type 1 diabetic herself, and it probably won’t be the last time she will do it.

“I had kept my condition secret on the show until that episode where I was hospitalized. The real point of all of this is to let people know they are not alone. You have to eat well and pay attention to the food supply and what you are putting into
your body. It’s all about lifestyle choices.”

Most of her speaking engagements are for the Juvenile Diabetes Association since she was diagnosed as a diabetic at age 6.  So, does she worry about her nearly 4-year old son Tony having diabetes?

“I am concerned about that cause it can be hereditary. Sometimes I take his blood sugar just to see what his number is. He seems to be fine. But right now we are just concerned with Halloween. At first we got him a Spiderman costume but it scared him. We’ll probably just wind up throwing a sheet over him and telling him he’s a

In the press release announcing her joining forces with Shanachie she also revealed some of the lessons she learned during her time on Idol.

“I’ve learned that you’re not allowed to wear the same outfit twice on television and not to burp and curse so loudly in public. The silvery residue of Idol has faded a bit and now it’s all about what’s true and real in my world.”

For now that world revolves around Tony, her husband Brian Walker (they celebrated their two-year anniversary earlier this month) and her music. She is writing the songs for the upcoming album.

“A lot of times I just pick up my guitar and it starts,” she explained the genesis of her music  “Or sometimes it just begins with a poem or right before I fall asleep something
will come to me. Or other times I’ll just tell Brian to get Tony and get out of the house.”

Then she laughed. As she admitted in that press release: “My son has taught me so much. How strong I can be, even in my weakest moments.”


Diabetes Conference
& Health Fair

9 a.m-5 p.m. Saturday
(Oct. 27)

San Diego Convention Center

Cost: Early-Bird, $20;
Day of Event, $25.

Information: 858-755-5683
or 800-998-2693