Thursday, I had the opportunity to participate in a media call with Brooke White. She had a lot to share about her experience on Idol. I wish her the best of luck with her future music career.
Brooke, one of the interesting things about the show is the differences in experience. There have been people on the show like Daughtry, and Bo Bice, and Taylor Hicks who have been performing full time for eight years. I was wondering, in your case, before you started the show, what was your experience as far as performing live in front of an audience?
B. White: Sure, I was at the same time as being a nanny, I was doing my best to try and do the singer/songwriter thing. I did do an independent album, performed around LA for a couple of years, and tried to get some of that experience under my belt, but that was pretty much it. It was just going out and doing it the hard way.
What kind of places were you doing it in? Were you sitting at a piano, or stool?
B. White: Yes, my very first gig was at Molly Maloneís, and I was on a little Rhodes piano, just the Rhodes and me. For about a year, I would do a couple of shows at The Roxy, and then I went to Arizona and did a few little hometown shows, but it was just mainly in clubs around LA.
I wanted to ask you about the journey, the difficulty of maneuvering the show and dealing with nerves, pressure, and stuff like that, because it seems like a few times, it really did get to you. How did you deal with that, and then push through with actually having to do the show every week?
B. White: I donít know if you really have a choice. You get there, and I think there has just been something within me, when I thought I wasnít able to keep going, and you totally feel like youíre sinking and itís like, okay, swim. You have to, you realize youíre here; you have to make the best of it.
The pressure is so incredibly difficult, but you know what, I was here to do my absolute best, and be as true to myself as possible, and I can say in my heart, even with the challenges I faced, I think I was able to do that.
What did you think was your strongest performance in your personal opinion?
B. White: It was absolutely, Let It Be.
I think Iím right in thinking your husband pledged not to cut his hair until you were off the show. Is that correct?
B. White: Yes, itís true.
When is he planning on cutting the hair, and are you going to do it?
B. White: Dave, when do plan on cutting your hair? He just said, ďwhenever you get around to it.Ē So, yes, Iíll be the one cutting it, but Iím just not sure, when thatís going to happen, weíll have to pencil it in somewhere. It will probably have to be at three oíclock in the morning sometime.
Right, and when you were up on stage, obviously you were feeling quite emotional; itís a difficult moment last night. What was going through your head?
B. White: Everything. I had anticipated it in a strange way, it was in my gut, and I thought I was strong, I really did, I felt so grateful and happy, and then ďboomĒ it hit me, this is done this is over. The finality of that phase of the experience being over was sad, and then the fear of going back into the real world and what does the future hold, and also an excitement. It was just a lot of feelings that I was feeling. Yes, it was emotional, and Iíd hoped so much that I could have been stronger, but I guess Iím just an emotional girl, Iím passionate, and that really came across on the stage, because I felt very vulnerable every time.
I know last night, Ryan Seacrest pointed out that on Tuesday night you had the lyrics to the song written on your arm.
B. White: I had the word palm on the palm of my hand.
Are there any other tips that you have used throughout the show for jogging your brain, or remembering the lyrics, or any little cheat sheets, or anything like that?
B. White: No, actually, I have not had any problems with the lyrics up until ďYou Must Love MeĒ and all of a sudden, it freaked me out, and I started thinking, oh my gosh, what if this happens again, it just kind of plays head games.
When I was singing the song in my rehearsal, I kind of felt as if palm tree was not sticking in my brain, so even just the practice of writing it down on my hand helped me remember it. I didnít even look at it because it was on the underneath side of my hand, but whatever you can use.
We donít use teleprompters, and I was playing an instrument, and singing on two songs, so it was a lot of things to remember in less than a weekís time.
Absolutely, and your husband, throughout the show, seemed supportive; he was always in the audience. Did you sing for him around the house, and does he really enjoy it, or is he like, okay, come on, Brooke, Iíve heard you sing too much, or anything like that?
B. White: Oh no, he likes to hear me sing, heís pretty great. Heís just a very laid-back fellow with great perspective, and heís 100% supportive. Iíve been really fortunate to find a guy who could hang with me through this.
I was wondering; were there any songs you couldnít have cleared that you would have just loved to have performed on Idol?
B. White: Absolutely, I would have loved to sing a Fleetwood Mac song, or a James Taylor song.
ďYouíve Got a Friend,Ē which I guess he did Ė
B. White: Well, Carole King wrote that song, so she owns the publishing.
What were you planning to sing for next weekís Hall of Fame theme?
B. White: Well, I hadnít completely decided, but one that I was definitely thinking of singing was, ďHelp MeĒ by Joni Mitchell.
What are you planning on doing during the tour?
B. White: Well, I still havenít decided on all my song choices, so I couldnít even tell you, yet. We are doing about three songs apiece, so Iím really looking forward to it. Iím definitely going to be playing piano, and having a good time just connecting with the fans. Itís all about the music, and not all about the competition and the judging, just the good stuff.
It was kind of funny when Simon was saying he was going to tempt you over to the dark side. How have the last few weeks, few months, been along those lines?
B. White: Actually, he joked with me last night that he thought he might have brought me over to the dark side, and I just said, absolutely not. No, Iíve had a lot of support from people to remain the same person that I am, and I feel live Iíve been given the support, and I feel like Iíve had the strength to just remain that way, so itís all good.
At least itís sort of interesting, and of course, people around here are noting the fact that two of the last five on the show are both Mormon. Do you guys talk about that at all?
B. White: Well, you know, itís just part of our lives, and itís been a great part of my life, and itís helped me make a lot of decisions, and it brought me a lot of peace actually through the competition, just my faith, it has been a great thing. Itís all good.
And heard reports when the cameras are off during the commercial breaks, particularly last week, it was very emotional, you were crying, really cried off camera. Is it a relief to be off the show?
B. White: Yes and no, I think after Tuesday night, I was ready, I was reenergized, my spirits were up, I wanted to keep going, and then I woke up Wednesday morning, and I knew, it was in my gut, Brooke, youíre going home; weird. Part of me wanted to keep going, and the other part of me was thinking this has been amazing, and it is kind of a relief.
Song selection and the pressures really increased with two songs, and then preparing for the finale, itís just an incredible amount of pressure, so in that sense, it does feel kind of good to be done with that, but you know what, I was welcoming the challenge as well.
Did you have a certain amount of survivorís guilt after last week, Carly Smithson going home, you having the problem with the lyrics? What was going through your head on Wednesday night last week?
B. White: When I survived, youíre saying? I donít know if guilt is quite the right word for surviving. I was grateful. This show is very interesting; the voting process is very interesting. Thatís why I always say, you never know whatís going to happen. I think you take what you can get, and I was grateful to people for seeing past my mistake.
I think beyond the mistake, I did my very best. I did my very best, I emotionally connected with the song, and I gave it everything I had, so for whatever reason that people felt motivated to vote, thatís beyond my control.
What was your thinking going into last weekís results show? This week you woke up and kind of sensed it, what was your sense last week?
B. White: Well, Iíve been packed for two weeks. Thereís always a chance you could go home, but in these last couple weeks, it starts becoming more real. The contestants are so strong, and you just never know. Ever since Michael Johns went home, I think there was always this question in my mind of how long do I get. It could be any week, so you give your best performance, and then itís out of your hands.
Did you not see yourself making it all the way to the final two?
B. White: I think I hoped for that, but at the same time, I tried to set goals, once I got the top 24, to the top 12, and once I got to the top 12, it was top 10, and once I hit the top 10, it was top 5. You just have to take it in increments because you can overwhelm yourself, and the expectations can sometimes bring a lot of disappointment.
Every time I was up on stage, I threw my heart into it, but I was open to whatever may be, because you only have so much control in this situation.
Are you going to be coming back to Arizona any time before the tour?
B. White: Iím planning on it, Iím hoping, but I donít know when. They have me very busy, up to the finale, so itís as if Iím off the show, but not really. Thereís a lot to do, but I hope I get to, because Iím just dying to see my family. Huge support in Arizona, it was incredible.
What are you going to miss the most about the show? Is it the friendship with the contestants?
B. White: Oh, the friendship with the contestants, but weíre going on tour together, which is going to be a really great time. This experience, weíve talked about it, sitting in rooms waiting for stuff to happen, and the experience of this is unlike anything else I donít think Iíll ever have again.
I donít really know how to put it into words, but it all has become this incredible roller coaster ride filled with a lot of emotions, and a lot of experiences that I donít think I could ever have gotten in any other way.
Simon always says itís difficult to maintain friendships because you are competing against each other. Do you think thatís true? Is there an undercurrent to the friendships?
B. White: No, but I can only speak for myself. Iím not very competitive by nature, and weíre all very different from one another. Itís not as if we had two similar voices, itís just a matter of what people like.
One of the vocal coaches said, you know, Brooke, when Iím listening to the Carpenterís, Iím not saying theyíre so much better than Van Halen, itís two different things, and if youíre constantly caught up in comparing the two, then youíre missing out on the joy of the music.
Yes, itís a show, itís a competition, but we literally got along better than I think Ė they always commented on how well they thought we did get along, I think we really related to each other. We were all going through a similar experience that no one could possibly understand.
You said that you struggled with confidence in the past. What did that mean for you before you went on Idol, and what impact being on Idol had on that problem?
B. White: Well, I was very open, and honest that struggle that I have, and to be honest again, it escalated at times during Idol, and at other times, I felt like I had a better handle on it. It was very much a roller coaster ride.
Tuesday, I think I felt kind of a resurge of confidence that I hadnít felt in a long time, a lot of joy, gratitude for being in that place and I think thatís what gave me that boost, and it felt great.
Even though I went home, it was wonderful to leave on that note. I know that Simon said it was a nightmare or whatever, but personally, I think it was a great moment, and Iíve had such incredible support from fans, which also helps to reassure you.
Finding that inner confidence is something that has definitely been a struggle for me, but Iím learning, Iím growing, and Idol definitely helped me work on that.
We always say this show brings everything to the surface that might be an issue for you, and that one is certainly one of them, but I worked through it, and at times, had to work through it in a very public way.
Thatís hard, itís a very vulnerable position to be in, but it feels good to be honest, it feels good to work through it, and to face that challenge, and work through it.
Can you tell me, what is the problem? Do you feel that youíre going to get to something, and then you fail to do it, or that youíre not as good as other people or what is it?
B. White: Definitely Iíve had comparison issues my whole life. I didnít start singing until I was a teenager, until I was about David Archuletaís age, and I never thought I had a nice voice. It wasnít pretty, it was this low, raspy thing, I didnít have a big range, and I think I was very intimidated by other singers, especially on American Idol where itís so focused on vocals. I didnít know how well I would do, or if I would survive.
Oftentimes in rehearsal, Iíd hear everybody sing and Iíd think, wow, how did I get here, this is amazing, and these people are incredible. Sometimes it was easy to feel intimidated. Iím learning that everybody is different; there are several artists out there.
I spoke with Carly Simon this morning during an interview, and she just said some things that really meant a lot to me. Itís okay to be different and itís important to accept that and make the most of it. There are people out there who appreciate it, so you just have to go with it.
I was wondering what, since you didnít win, what would you like to happen, how do you see yourself, where would you like your career to go after this?
B. White: I want to be a singer/songwriter, I want to play Ė what I did on the show is as close to what I, without performing my own material, I would love to write, or at least co-write, and build an album around that organic sound, keep it real, keep it raw, and keep it fresh. I know it is 2008, so you have to make it current, but I definitely think thatís my avenue. I want to play the piano, I want to play the guitar, and I want to be very involved with the music, and connect with people on a very honest level.
Sort of like Carly Simon?
B. White: Yes, Carly Simon, Carole King, those are the people I grew up listening to.
One other thing, what did you take away from it? What did you learn from the Idol experience?
B. White: I always say thatís a loaded question. Many things I learned, but I think finding a balance between being true to yourself, and taking the advice and the wisdom from people who have great perspective and knowledge.
I think the holding on to who you are, tuning into that inner voice, listening to your gut, and making decisions that you feel good about.
Your looks seemed to change over the show, and I know they do this today; everybody looks different from when they started.
B. White: Itís part of the program, and we have incredible stylists who work with us, and sometimes we went for curly hair, sometimes we went for straight hair, and I have naturally curly hair, I love it, I embrace it, but itís fun, itís not permanent, you can straighten it, and you can take it back to curly.
I was just wondering if you were going to take a look back at one that you like from that.
B. White: That first audition I had is probably the truest to what I am normally, very organic and laid back, kind of like the music. I donít mind getting glamorous every once in a while, and on the show, they like us to be glamorous. At the same time, I like the jeans, the boots, and the wavy hair, but I donít mind dressing up, too.
I know they said about Paulaís incident on Tuesday night, Iím just wondering what you thought happened, and how uncomfortable was it for you guys standing up there?
B. White: Well, it is live television, anything can happen. Last week, I stopped and restarted my song, itís just human moments that happen on the show. I donít exactly what happened with Paula, but stuff happens on the show, and when itís live, things can change very quickly, and they decide in the middle of the show to change something, and Iím sure she just kind of got lost in the moment. Sheís a good-hearted woman, and you just move on.
One other thing, too, Neil Diamond last night gave you some advice where he said donít listen to what Simon says. I wonder how confusing it is when you get a mentor like that who says donít listen to Simon, but then youíre supposed to listen to Simon. How do you deal with that? How do you work through that?
B. White: Itís quite a challenge because every week you go up there, and not that it always turns out the best, but I always give my best, and when youíre standing there in a place of vulnerability, itís hard to know what you should take, and what you should not take. I think sometimes he has some valid points, and sometimes I think his delivery is just plain mean. I like him, I think heís a good guy, but I agree with him.
When Paula said last night, someone has to give hope to them for their dreams, someone has to be positive, and I think she gets that. I think Simon comes from another side, he wants to push you do your best, and his way of doing that is being harsh, and very blunt. Thatís his style, sometimes I take it, and sometimes I leave it.
I just wanted to follow up quickly about the confusion that happened on Tuesday night. Backstage, was there any kind of boosting up of Jason a little bit, because he still had to go out there and sing after heíd been sort of Ö?
B. White: Boosting up of Jason, Iím sorry, what do you mean by that?
Because Paula had said his second song was bad, and then he had to go out and sing it after that.
B. White: Oh right, well you know what, Jasonís a very laid-back guy, I think he was okay. He does what he does, and heís great. I always say, live television is very interesting. We call it fly by the seat of your pants television, and thatís what it is.
You just kind of go with it, things change, it can be very confusing, you donít always hear whatís happening, and you just go with it.
Thatís exactly what happened, and Paula, bless her heart, made a little mistake, it happens to everyone. Last week, I stopped my song, and restarted. Weíre just humans doing our best, and you move on.
Live TV makes it a lot more Ė
B. White: Interesting, right? Thatís why American Idol is what it is.
Right, and do you have one regret that you wish you had done on the show that you didnít.
B. White: Enjoyed it more. Honestly, the pressure was gigantic, and I didnít even tune into the media, I wasnít even into it, but just your own insecurities that you feel throughout the whole thing, and the pressure, and the workload, physically, mentally, emotionally, itís huge. You still have to find a way to enjoy it, and I did in so many ways, but standing out on that stage, I just let it get to me, but I gave it may all, I totally gave my heart. I know that, and I have no regrets because of it.
Yes, Iím sure, and you were able to play an instrument. This was the first year they offered that. Were you excited when you heard that?
B. White: I was so excited because I think in the beginning, I felt so insecure that my singing wasnít going to be enough. Iím not a good enough singer for this show, and Iím learning to get over that as well. Just because you think your voice isnít good enough doesnít mean that there are people out there that do appreciate it.
Part of what I want to do is be a singer/songwriter, and that means for me playing an instrument. I didnít even know going into it that they were going to let us do that this year.
When I found out, I was like, gosh, this is it, this is the year I needed to do this, and itís something I love to do, but itís something thatís very difficult, and it increased the workload a lot, especially this week.
It was like doing four different things, playing the guitar and singing, and then playing the piano and singing. It wasnít fake, it was real, thereís no teleprompter, itís all from memory, and itís very challenging.
Iím glad I challenged myself and took risks. I donít know if it always worked, but at least I tried.
I just wanted to know, who are you rooting for now that youíre off the show?
B. White: Iím rooting for all of them, and I know thatís probably the most boring answer in the world, but for all different reasons, each contestant is really special, and this show is very unpredictable, it just depends on what America wants.
I couldnít really just single out one person, I donít know if that would be fair.
Lastly, Carly Smithson was saying she thought that maybe the voting was a little off this year because girls were voting for the guys because theyíre so cute. Do you feel the same way?
B. White: Well, the boys are awfully popular this year, and I know that because their fan mail came in great, humongous stacks, and we girls received three a day, it was amazing. The boys are very talented and very charming, and itís, oh to be a boy this year, it probably would have been helpful. Theyíre great, but so are the girls, I have to give them all props; everybody has been so good.
Thank you to FOX for allowing us to participate in this media call.