Ashthon Jones, last night’s eliminated American contestant was known for her confidence. But, it didn’t come easy. She had a backstory. She lost her dad at 14, and was away from home for 2 1/2 years after she ran away at 15. When she came back she was born again, finding faith in God.
She had a feeling she would be eliminated, telling the hair people to pin her hair back. She had every intention of having the best time she could on stage last night.
Today Ashthon is strong and relentlessly positive. She’s a firm believer in “speaking everything into existence.” You won’t hear a negative word from Ashthon.
After the jump, read a play by play of the conference call. More interviews: From Entertainment Weekly and AmericanIdol.com . Stay tuned–next week Ashthon will make the media rounds in NY and LA. I’ll have the media here.
Recap after the JUMP…
- Ashthon was a runaway when she was 15. Her father passed away when she was 14, “I had some crazy things going on, ” she says. Ashthon was gone over 2 1/2 years. “It was just life changing.” When she got back to her family she became a Christian and turned her life around “I immediately started doing more positive things…just from that experience it’s made me a stronger person.” “It’s just the tip of the iceberg of what I’ve been though, she says, “I never wear that on my shoulder, though.”
- She’s not going back to work at the retail store in Nashville. “It’s time for me to be the artist and the performer that God put in me a long time ago. I’ve got to go on further in my career. Hopefully opportunities are there waiting for me. I’m very excited about what’s to come. I have no idea about what’s to happen, but I feel it in my spirit that it’s something great.”
- What was America missing about her during the Top 24 round? “I don’t think the show showed my personality as much as I wanted to. But it was ok, because everything happened for a reason. I’m glad the judges saw that personality of a Diva. I didn’t want the world to see me as diva-like. I wanted them to see the confidence I have came from God. I have faith and confidence in myself I was never timid on stage. I’ve been performing…even back home. I feel like America is going to see that. I can’t wait to perform again.”
- She does not regret choosing her Diana Ross song. “At first I was ‘I shouldn’t have chosen that song’ but as I look back on it now…I chose that song for a reason. That one spoke to me, it ministered to me in way…that I related it to my life and my experiences and my faith. The lyrics are what spoke to me. I didn’t understand why that song wasn’t a big hit. Jimmy Iovine and Rodney Jerkins to turn it into such a current R&B song? I just thought it was amazing. America really didn’t feel it like I did, but hopefully now that it’s on iTunes, it will begin to touch them like it touched me. And I believe that.”
- Best piece of advice she received was from Jennifer, “Jennifer always had something real to say that came straight from her spirit. She always told me…’you’re amazing, you’re going to go far, don’t stop’ Last night she told me ‘It’s all about the songs in the music business. Even when you get that first record, make sure it’s a hit before you put it out.”
- Steven Tyler in one word, “Fabulous. He was fabulous from his clothes, to his shoes…what he said, he did not care what people thought. He said exactly what he felt. For the most part, everything was true. He was just amazing. Behind the scenes, he was the most humble and sweet person.”
- She’s going to stay in contact with her castmates. “I have their numbers…we’re literally best friends, I lift them up, they lift me up. That’s what a best friend is. That’s what it’s all about–having people around you that are positive.”
- Words of advice, “Never look at the blogs, never listen or read negative comments about you. It’s going to discourage you. I learned that. You have to stay focused and have be around people who constantly feeding great energy and faith into your spirit.”
- Producers and artists she would like to work with, “I enjoyed working with Rodney Jerkins and Jimmy Iovine. They brought me into a place I never knew I could go to. They had me singing notes that I couldn’t even hit before…I would love to meet Diana Ross…Berry Gordy was there. If he has anything for me to do, I would do it and I would be happy to.”
- At the moment she was eliminated, “It really was not pain, it was leaving the stage and my friends that I had made. I just had to let it out. I always hold stuff in…sometimes you have to let it out and show your emotions. I cried because of all of the things I went through on the show. I could not believe I made it so far.”
- Is there any stigma to being the first person voted off? “It’s not always a bad thing to be the first person. Everything that I went through on the show now I”m going to take it and put it towards my career. It was all in God’s timing. He has something better for me. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen.”
- What will it take to find success after the show? “I always had to remind myself that some of the greatest who didn’t even win are doing well and very comfortable in their careers–millionaires doing great. That also kept me sane and driven. I have a wonderful feeling–there’s something…there’s going to be an opportunity there for me that I can do. I want to buy my mom a house, I want my family to never have to worry. I want to have an amazing career in music because I love to do it. I don’t want to go back to working jobs I don’t want to work. I don’t want to struggle anymore, I don’t want to feel pain anymore. I want to show the world who I am and spread the love and spread the faith. I want people to see me and say, ‘hey she’s my Idol anyway.’ It’s not about winning. You have to feel like you’re already a winner.”
- On Casey Abram’s illness, and how stressful is being on American Idol, “I love Casey so much. I don’t know what’s going on but I’m sure he’s going to be OK. I prayed for him. It’s stressful if you make it stressful. You have to stay grounded. That’s why I believe in God and believe in faith so much. If it wasn’t for him I would have been crushed. I probably wouldn’t be able to talk to you right now. You have to go into a place in your spiritual world…so that when elimination comes, nothing stops you from being the best that you can be.”
- Where does she see herself in two to 5 years? “I see myself performing, going overseas… helping my mom out with her businesses…continuing to be a songwriter and a motivator and someone that has grown in her faith.
- Does she see herself winning a Grammy? Being a big artist? “It’s possible. I’m a big firm believer in speaking everything into existence. If I speak that in my spirit every day, it’s gonna happen. When you speak it, you’re constantly driving yourself.”
- Did she think she would be eliminated? “It wasn’t a surprise. I had a feeling. There’s so many talented people on the show. I was still there, and the judges saw something in me that I didn’t know I had. So it didn’t crush me at all. It doesn’t mean I don’t have fans, just that I had the least votes. I’m just honored to have been on the show with superstars….my little fanbasee are going to stick by my side. That’s all that matters. It’s not about having the most fans. It’s not about trying to be better than someone. It’s about finding your lane and learning who you are. I believe that competition really showed who I was. It helped find the lane I can go in.”
- Did she think there was a chance the judges would use the save? “I felt it in my spirit that it was time to go. I went to the hair and makeup lady…’I want a Mohawk today’…I’m going to have a good time. If I get kicked off, I’m going to go off with a bang. I had a wonderful time.”
- What she will tell her grand kids about the Idol experience? “This is not the end. There’s no way I could end right here. That’s what I’m going to tell them…you have to continue to go on. You can’t live off of ‘I was on American Idol.'”
- On singing Diana Ross, “I felt destined to sing that song. Diana Ross is such a soft singer, I felt like I gave it a different edge because we differ in our style. It showed a different side of me.”
- Did she get to meet Barry Gordy? “I got a wink from him, and one of those smiles, and that’s all I needed. I hope I made him proud. I hope that he saw the difference that I brought to the song.”
- Did her emotionalism hurt her? “I can only be myself. I’m not going to be a different person just for TV.”
- What was her most memorable moment? “Every contestant…and every time I got on stage. Every time I got on the stage I felt like I could conquer the world…I didn’t want America to take that in a weird way, but that’s who I am. I’m really a sweet person and humble backstage…but when I get on the stage it’s something else.”
- On singing in front of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez, “I’m honored and so excited and glad that I got to perform in front of them, and all of the other stars that were on the show too.”
- What would she have sung next week? “There was Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson–those hit songs. Probably would have done a Diana Ross song that everyone knows. I think that would have won the crowd over and kept me there. It’s OK. I don’t want to look at the past, be depressed. Now it’s time to take everything that I learned and move forward in my life and grow as an artist.”