American Idol’s Elise Testone: a deeper, more personal interview

Elise Testone has been eliminated on American Idol, but that doesn’t mean her fantastic ride is over. In the following interview Testone shares her childhood dreams of stardom, what it was like to meet Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and guesses at what the future has in store for her. She made it all the way into the top 10 on this season’s American Idol, which means she’ll be taking part in a live tour. The American Idol tour makes its way to New Jersey in late summer.

Gene: What were your initial thoughts when you went to the first auditions?

Elise: I was just wondering what was in store for me. I was really excited to show the judges my lifetime of work and to see what kind of reaction they would have. I was really anxious to get out and share it with a lot of people.

Gene: Would you compare your impressions of American Idol from before you were a contestant — watching it on TV — to what it’s like actually being on the show?

Elise: Well, honestly, I really never watched, so it’s hard to really compare. Everything’s pretty much new. But it’s definitely a lot more behind the scenes than I think anyone realizes. For example, seven days a week, we work almost 10 hours. And you’re just getting ready for a show day. It’s very hectic and detailed and involved. Every time you think you have a minute where you can go home, you can’t because there’s something else you have to do. On top of that, I really like to keep up with any fan mail. You know, people send me letters. I really like to answer them because it’s definitely a responsibility — to become an Idol — the way I want to do it. I want to do it the best way I know how.

Gene: What would that be?

Elise: Just being an inspiration, being real, being true to myself, being consistent, being someone that people can look up to and just working hard and earning that.

Gene: When you were a kid and you were learning to sing, what was your dream?

Elise: My dream was to always be true to myself and use the gifts that I’m given to make other people happy.

Gene: How did you picture yourself? Did you see yourself in a band?

Elise: When I was little, I would look through People magazine, for example, and I’d always look through and I would think, “When I’m older I’ll make sure I don’t do this” or, “Oh, I’ll make sure I make an inspirational music video.” I always just imagined that. Now, I’m 28, and I feel like this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. I always imagined myself being here, maybe not here exactly, but doing something big like this.

Gene: You’ve said that Steven Tyler was an influence. What was it like for you to meet Tyler?

Elise: We have kindred spirits, like we’re old friends. There’s something that we have that’s similar, so we kind of hit it off right away.

Gene: Do you think you will have any kind of connection with the judges after the season is over?

Elise: Oh, I don’t know. We don’t get to interact with them much. They keep us separate. I think that there could be a possibility later to collaborate or do something.

Gene: Where do you see your career going after American Idol? Do you have a plan to capitalize on this in some way?

Elise: Yes, I’m just gonna keep moving and do as much as I can — meet many different musicians who have recorded albums. Performing live…I’d love to organize festivals, but that’d be way later. Right now I’m just kind of riding the wave and taking all the opportunities, and doing the best I can as they come to me.

Gene: Do you have any advice for aspiring singers that are watching the show?

Elise: Yeah, always be true to yourself and always connect with what you’re singing. Make every single word count.

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About genemyers

Gene Myers is a New Jersey poet, music journalist and columnist who learned to walk twice. His weekly column is called The Joy of Life. He was awarded first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing by The New Jersey Press Association.
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