Here is the exit interview with Sarina-Joi Crowe who made it to the Top 12 but was eliminated last week:
Q: So, based upon your performance Wednesday night, were you shocked that out of everyone in the top 12, you apparently got the lowest votes. I mean, a lot of viewers didn’t see that coming.
Sarina-Joi: I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t exactly happy with Wednesday’s performance. I knew it wasn’t my best. I won’t say it was a bad performance, but it wasn’t my best, and I have nerves to thank for that because I was called first, and I was kind of in a state of shock, but I don’t regret anything and—so I kind of woke up with the feeling that I could be in the bottom, and so I prepared for that.
Q: Okay. And, I know it was the first week the judges could use their save, but they knew how hard you worked to get there, and Jennifer even told you last week, I think it was, that you were the strongest singer out of all the girls. So, when you sang for the save, did you have hope they might use it on you? Or, did you kind of just view it as your last live performance for America, and therefore it’s just something that you should have fun with?
Sarina-Joi: It was like mixed emotions. A part of me wanted them to save me, but a part of me knew the reality of the situation, and the reality was that it was the first episode of the season. And despite Jennifer’s comments, I know that this is a very talented group of kids, and so I was kind of half and half.
So, I said I’m going to try to do both. I’m going to try to sing for the save, and also give one last really good impression for America, so that they can have something positive to remember me by; not a sad ballad, but something fun.
Q: You did so well with “Love Runs Out” on your audition, but when you did it the other night, it’s like—did the band come in a key higher? Why wasn’t the second time a charm?
Sarina-Joi: I think, honestly, it was just I was in a state of shock because I was first, and I was very, very nervous, and so when the band kicked in, I think I kind of just jumped in a little, I just jumped in feet first and I picked it up as best as I could towards the middle, but it was what it was.
The theme was what got me here, so I had to do “Love Runs Out,” and I did the best I could with it. And for the most part, I had so much energy throughout the song that I think it was like—it was just a matter of me just like sharing how excited I was about making the top 12, and it might have overpowered the song, and it was a weak performance. But, I’m proud of it, and I don’t regret anything.
Q: Do you think a new format, maybe—you’re a veteran at this. This is your fourth time around. Do you think the new format may be throwing off some of the contestants? Like it could work both ways. You can get called up there, you’re all excited, you got all the energy, and then maybe it could go the other way. You’re sitting there, you’re watching everybody else get called up, and then it might be playing with your mind a little bit. Is this new format throwing people off their game?
Sarina-Joi: I think it’s a matter of how you deal with it because it is very nerve-racking to sit there and not really know if you’re going to get to sing or not, and so when you do get your name called, it’s a little frazzled, you can be frazzled by it. I mean, just like me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through after my second week in Detroit, so when I was the first person to be called, my mind was in a million different places. I wasn’t expecting it at all, and so I had to make do with what I had, kind of, in that short amount of time, and so I don’t think it’s throwing people off. I just think that it’s a matter of dealing with it, and getting to a place where you can be calm throughout the entire episode.
Q: So, you auditioned for American Idol four times, which really speaks to your determination, so how does being eliminated off the show affect your determination to make it as an artist?
Sarina-Joi: It doesn’t. It actually motivates me even more. It’s like, at the end of the day, I know everybody wants to go all the way on Idol, and that is ultimately the goal. But, if you can go from the number 100 to 60 to 48 to 12, every single time you come on the show, and those are your stats, then it’s a pretty good sign of what kind of career you’re going to have.
You’re always going to go a little further, you’re always going to get a little better, and I’m okay with that because it just means that I still got time to grow and do great things.
Q: CupidsPulse is a website that focuses on relationships, so when you’re singing a love song like, when I saw you singing “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” when you were in the top eight girls, do you have anyone in mind to make the delivery of your song convincing? And, if not, how do you make it so believable?
Sarina-Joi: Well, there’s nobody in mind because I am like so single it should be illegal, but I just try to use like past relationships as an example, maybe, or I just try jump into the shoes of somebody that I think would feel that way. For instance, me and Rickey Minor talked a lot about “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” and the yearning and kind of the need in the song, and I just tried to channel it as best as I could because it’s kind of like a bipolar thing, like I don’t like you, but I love you.
And, I really got fascinated by that concept, so it was just a matter of me finding a situation, whether it be a past relationship, or maybe like a movie situation, or a friend that had told me a story once. I always try to find something I can connect to, and push it out as best as I can.
Q: Your auditioning process—this is your fourth time, and you made it through to the top 12, which is amazing. Do you want to just tell us a little bit about how you felt auditioning, going back four times? And, any advice you’d have for people in the future?
Sarina-Joi: Yes. I just felt like you should never give up. That’s the one thing that I want to make known across the nation is that like if you don’t take anything from my story, it’s that when somebody tells you no, you can’t really take that. You have to go back and figure out what you’re going to do next and try it again because everybody’s going to tell you no at some point.
You’re going to get a million no’s, but it’s that one yes that’s going to make a difference after you get those no’s, and I would just say to just keep pressing. If you’re going to audition for stuff, if you’re going to do TV shows, if you’re going to do plays, or movies or anything, keep doing them. Just keep going out there and keep hitting it hard even if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s going to happen. And, the best thing that’s going to happen for you is you’re going to get tough skin, and when you do get that, yes, it’s going to rock you to a place where you’re going to be so excited, and you’re going to give 150% because you want it so much more after getting the no’s.
And, it’s just a matter of perseverance, and I just want everybody to have that, and get that from my story, and that’s really important to me.
Q: Are you planning on staying in L.A. right now? Or, do you have plans to go back home?
Sarina-Joi: Well, I’m going to do some traveling. I’m in L.A. for a little bit, for a couple of days, and then I’m going to go home and thank my wonderful hometown because they have been incredibly supportive of me. They have rallied together and pushed so hard for me, so I owe them some time and then I’m going to go back on the road, and visit some people and do some gigs, and my career is very much like on the move at this point.
Q: What were you planning on singing next week for “Movie Night?”
Sarina-Joi: I was planning on singing “The Way We Were,” by Barbara Streisand, which would have been a much sadder save song than “Neon Lights.”
Q: What are your post-Idol plans? Have you thought about what you might like to do now that you’re leaving the show? I mean, I know it’s like kind of sudden you’re just eliminated, but have you thought about what you would like to do once you’ve left the show, and as far as like taking advantage of the exposure you got on Idol?
Sarina-Joi: Yes. I’m definitely, I’m going to take advantage of exposure on Idol. I’ve been lucky to have a loyal, loyal fan base that has been following me for so long on the show, and I just want to give back to them. I really want to record an EP and put it out there for people to hear and maybe tour and meet some of the people that rallied for me and pushed me through every week, and I want to do everything. I really want to move to L.A. and just really start going around the circuit with things, and I know that I can do it because now I’ve proven to myself that if you never give up, like things are going to happen.
So, I just want to keep spreading that message and showing people that this is not the end of me—ever. Obviously, it wasn’t the end of me last year, and it’s not going to be the end of me this year, so—
Q: Have you thought about what kind of album you’d like to make?
Sarina-Joi: Yes. I’d love to make a like pop/soul album like the stuff that Jessie J does, the stuff that Demi Lovato does, Kelly Clarkson with like the rock, soul and the pop. All of that is like me, it’s so totally me, and I have wanted to do that for a while, and I feel like I really solidified that on Idol. From the minute I did “Mamma Knows Best,” I said, wow, this is the music I want to make. I want to make this kind of music forever.
Q: Good. Firstly, we’ve seen you grow so much in the past few weeks on the show, now I want to know has the show taught you something about the music industry that you didn’t know before?
Sarina-Joi: Yes. It taught me that one valuable thing that I will take from this show for the rest of my life is that when you have a gut feeling about something, and your gut is telling you something, you need to follow your gut, no matter what. Like, no matter what people tell you, no matter who’s in your ear, if you want to do something, do it because at the end of the day, you’re the only person that has to get up there and sing. You’re the only person that’s being judged by America, you’re the only person that’s putting yourself out there. So, if a million people are chattering away at you about what you need to do, but they’re not out there doing it, you are, who’s going to be disappointed in the end if it doesn’t work out; you or them?
So, I have always kept that close from Idol is keep to yourself, do you and trust your instincts, and all is going to end up well.
Q: Congratulations on your journey, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about EDGE. We are a lifestyle and entertainment publication based out of New Jersey, and I wanted to ask you, where do you get your inner strength to persevere?
Sarina-Joi: Mostly from my mom. She’s always been very big about following our hearts and doing what we want to do, and not letting anybody else stop us. I mean, I come from a small town, it’s a town where people kind of just graduate high school and then they get a job and then they stay there.
And, from the minute that I was like 12 years old, I was like well, that’s not going to be me. Like, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to stay here forever. I’m going to do big things, and my mom was like, “Yeah, you are.” And, she’s always told me, “If you want something bad enough, you got to keep going for it. You can’t let one no make you stop forever. You have to just keep doing it no matter how many times you get your feelings hurt, or how many times you’re disappointed. Going for it eventually will pay off.” And, I just built up a tough skin because of that, and I’ve built up like just the strength to just keep doing it no matter what.
So, I’m happy that it got me this far on Idol, and I know that it’s going to get me far in life, so I’m very excited about things.
Q: Was there any valuable advice that you obtained from the judges?
Sarina-Joi: The most valuable advice that I’ve obtained from the judges is to just be myself and to really listen to what’s going on around me and, mostly, to just be confident. Because, even if you’re like nervous, if you go on stage and you’re confident people will look at you in a different way, and it’ll do wonders for your performance quality, and so I’m very ecstatic to have taken that with me.
Q: What have you learned about yourself in this whole process, what that you can share?
Sarina-Joi: I learned that I am very motherly, apparently. According to the other contestants, I’m extremely motherly, and I care a lot about other people. And, I always say, if American Idol was a beauty pageant, I would have won Miss Congeniality, apparently, because I was trying to help everyone a lot. And, I learned that I ended up—I learned that I opened my heart more than I thought I would. I came back to the show with very little friendships from the years’ previous, aside from like Savion, and so I didn’t really know how to really gauge the different people, and I ended up falling in love with 48 contestants that went to 24, that went to 16, that went to 12, and I opened my heart to them.
And, I didn’t really know that I could do that so quickly with people that I didn’t know, and I was just sad to say goodbye to them because they’re such a huge part of who I am. They’ve all impacted me so deeply, and that’s one thing I learned about myself that I didn’t know that about myself before.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about “Neon Lights?” How you chose it? How it worked out? I think a party anthem is, maybe, kind of a hard thing when you are singing for the save.
Sarina-Joi: Yes. Well, “Neon Lights” was originally my song for “Get The Party Started,” so had I been called, I would have performed “Neon Lights” for America’s vote, but since I was in the bottom, since I was the last person to be called, that ended up having to be my save song.
So, that’s just what the circumstances brought, but for me, like I said I never really, I didn’t know that I would be singing for the save, so in my head, “Neon Lights” was what I was going to perform. So, when it got down to the point where I had to sing it, I wasn’t really thinking about, oh I have to give this huge vocal performance so I can be saved. Because, in my heart, I kind of knew my time was up, so what I did was I said, you know what? I’m going to give a great performance, and I’m going to have a good time, and I’m going to enjoy it for myself. And, if they save me—great, but, if not I’m going to go out feeling good.
Because, at the end of the day I’m the only person that has to get on stage. Nobody else kind of has to do it except me, so I can’t leave feeling bad or it’s going to affect me, so I had to do what was best for me.
Q: Otherwise, you’ll make yourself crazy?
Sarina-Joi: Yes. You’ll drive yourself nuts thinking about what you could have and should have done. But, it was out of my hands, and so I just had to do the best I could.
Q: So, I know you’re going to do great things, but this is your big chance to have us all talk to your fans. What would you like to tell your fans? Or, anything you’d like to say to the people who supported you?
Sarina-Joi: I just want to thank them so, so, so much. I love them dearly. I’ve been reading so many great things on Twitter, and Facebook, and it’s just really, really—just awesome to see a group of people who are just so dedicated and loyal. And, I owe them everything because I wouldn’t even be here if not for them, so I would just tell them to just hang tight because like even though I’m not going to be on the TV every week, this is not the end, and there are great, great things coming if they would just stick with me a little longer.
Q: I want to ask you, sort of following that question, what character trait that you think from the show that you learned about yourself now that you want to develop? What do you want to develop more about yourself now that you hadn’t recognized before?
Sarina-Joi: I want to develop confidence in my decisions. Some things I’ll do and I’ll be like oh, yes, this is great. This is going to go well, and then other things I’ll say, I don’t know if this is a good idea, and I’ll weigh it back and forth, and I just want to get to where every single decision that I make is 100% what I want to do. You know?
I don’t want it to be a sometime thing, I don’t want to sometimes feel like, oh, this is what I want to do, and other times feel weird. I want to always be 100% confident in what I’m doing and that’s the one advice that I’ve always kept dear to my heart, which is trust your instincts, follow your gut, so—
Q: Viewers didn’t get to see any clips of Scott Borchetta mentoring you because you had to sing for the save. Would you mind sharing some of the advice he gave you, in addition to any compliments? And, how did you feel about him as your mentor, in general?
Sarina-Joi: Oh, Scott Borchetta is amazing. He’s an amazing, smart, smart guy and he complimented me on my power as a singer, and my emotions as an artist, and how I connected everything I sing. What he really told me was that I just needed to work on solidifying myself as an artist even more. Zoning in on what I want to do, and sticking with it and honing it, and I really needed to work on like my ear, and getting better because he told me I was already good, but I could be better.
And, that’s great criticism to get, so he was awesome. He was very hands on, he always had good things to say about the arrangements of the songs, and what he wanted to hear from me, and I was really thrilled to work with him.
Q: Since you auditioned for American Idol four times, could you talk about what changed from season to season? Like, how you prepared yourself for each new time and grew in that process? And, I guess were you surprised the judges took this long to make you a top 24 contestant considering how much they praised your vocal ability this season?
Sarina-Joi: No. I wasn’t surprised because personally, over the years I felt like I needed to improve. Season 10 and Season 12, I wasn’t anywhere near where I was now. Season 10, I wouldn’t have lasted the first week of the live shows, so I needed to get better, and I needed to get smarter as an artist, and I feel like this was the perfect timing for me.
And, as the seasons have changed, you kind of have to attack it. You attack it with the same mentality of, okay, I just really want to get, I really need to get to live shows, and then the real work starts. And, I just really need to keep going as much as I can, but you don’t really know what’s going to happen, so you just say, hey, I’m going to prepare for anything, and just be ready to roll with the punches.
Q: And, what about American Idol made you want to be on it so badly? Like, did you ever consider trying out for The Voice or maybe even back in the day, The X-Factor? Like, what was it—
Sarina-Joi: Yes. Absolutely. I did consider other shows, but I had to come to face with the reality that American Idol was incredibly good to me my first season, and the people that work for American Idol are incredibly hands on, and they really care about the contestants. They really want to see people do well. They don’t want to see anybody do badly, even the people that don’t make it to top ten or don’t make it to top twelve. They want to see those people do well, and that type of care is the reason I wanted to come back so much, and get to a point where I was around these people because, I wanted to show them like, hey I deserve this too, and they’ve always been super supportive of me coming back. I’ve never been told that they were tired of seeing me, and that meant a lot to me, so that was the reason, mostly.
Q: You were speaking about the other contestants and how motherly you were towards them and how close you all are. Do you have any words of advice for those still left in the competition?
Sarina-Joi: Absolutely. I would just tell them to keep their heads up and to not let anybody change them and to constantly do them, because all 11 of them are so incredibly diverse and so incredibly talented. And, if you guys think this is going to be an easy year for elimination, you’re mistaken. It’s going to be hard every single week because those kids are ridiculous, all of them. They’re amazing, and I would just tell them keep their heads up and to stay focused and to stay close and they’re going to understand this, nobody else will, but to do the thing. They’ll know what I mean by that.
Q: And, of course, I have to ask, are you going to be watching?
Sarina-Joi: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’ll be watching every single week. I’ll be watching because, more than anything, those are my friends. I know everybody gets this idea that we’re all competitive and we want to beat each other, but we’re not. We’re like a family. We’re brothers and sisters. Apparently, I was like the mother of the den and I was okay with that, and I wanted everyone to succeed. There were times that we helped each other on our performances. We sat down and helped each other learn lyrics, or learn keys or run scales or warm up.
This is so much more than people really realize, and I will, I’ll be watching every single week, right down to the finale, and I’m so happy for all of them.
Q: What for you was a high point this season of your own performances? Which one, really defines who you are as an artist, or was a really favorite moment for you?
Sarina-Joi: “Mamma Knows Best,” hands down. I’ve wanted to sing “Mamma Knows Best” for so long, it’s been my dream. And, I said no matter what, I want to do “Mamma Knows Best,” and get a chance to do it and be able to say, I finally accomplished what I needed to accomplish.
And, “Love Runs Out” is what it is. “Love Runs Out” doesn’t define me, and it won’t ever define me, and in two weeks nobody’ll care about “Love Runs Out,” but “Mamma Knows Best” will live on forever in my heart, and that’s what’s most important to me.
Q: Do you have any performances scheduled? Or, any plans or can you share it with us?
Sarina-Joi: Well, like for now, I’m just going to spend some time with my mom, who’s like my best friend, and I call her my day one. She’s my best friend. She’s been there for me this whole time and we’re going to just relax in L.A. for a couple of days, and then I’m going to go home and see all my friends and family that have been rallying for me because I love them dearly. And, then I think I’m going to pay a visit to a friend in Massachusetts that I’ve been dying to see, so that’s going to be the next step for me.
Sarina-Joi: Okay. Thank you all for taking the time out to talk to me. I really appreciate it and I just love everyone that’s been supporting me. It’s been really helpful and motivational, and this is not the end of me, and just never give up, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook if you want, and there’s definitely more to come. Definitely.