Eliminated Idol contestant, Didi Benami, spoke with reporters in a conference call earlier today. She talked about making her way in cut-throat LA the past 4 years (she lived in her car for awhile, handling tough criticism (including Kara telling her she lost her way), the uncomfortable moment with Ryan Seacrest (“I did what I felt was in my best interest”), and her close relationship with Siobhan Magnus and Crystal Bowersox (Didi will get to see the cast again on Saturday.)
Also, I’m posting FOX interviews, at the end of the post. (Good Day Philly, Good Day LA, FOX Tampa)
*Didi tells FOX9 in Minneapolis that she wants to sing “Terrified” and “Paperweight” on tour. She’s thinking about “Hey Jude” too.
Was she prepared for the scrutiny she got on the show? “Actually, I wasn’t prepared for that. I wasn’t an avid American Idol watcher, so I didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, I was just being myself and I did stuff that meant something to me, and I also had a good time. I’m Ok, I’m done with it. And it’s actually interesting, it was a lot like my Los Angeles experience. You get kicked down, you got to get back up again and start over. It’s not anything I haven’t dealt with before.”
She’s been living in LA for 4 years. What has that been like? “I moved out here when I was 19. I had crazy roommates and all sorts of ridiculous experiences, where I moved around a lot. There were points where I didn’t even have a place to live, and I was living out of my car. It’s been rough. I wanted to do some entertainment, and I wanted to sing , and do a bunch of songs. I somehow managed to find my way along the way, because I didn’t really know what I was doing, other than I moved out to LA and was trying to pursue what I loved. It takes a lot of ridiculous hardship—I was waiting tables, it’s never predictable, I switched jobs many times. It’s never been a stable environment for me, ever living out here until just recently, and then my life got uplifted again. It’s a crazy experience in LA. You get kicked down a lot. I taught myself how to play guitar, and write out everything that was bothering me or anything that I had on my mind that I couldn’t say in reality to somebody because I wanted to be nice, and I was able to start writing songs and meet people that wanted to co-write [with], …I can’t find the words I’m so tired! I started working on my skills, and train myself to write and [started] voice lessons. I worked really really hard to get where I am. I’m just really grateful to have the opportunity to be on American Idol in the first place because it’s a great platform for me to be able to get my music out there and to continue my songwriting and my love and my passion, and what I was put here to do. It’s really amazing.”
When did she live in her car? “Probably within the first year that I was here [in LA]. I moved 6 different times when I first moved out here in 2006. It was between 2006 and 2007.
Did she feel relieved to make the Top 10? “I’m relieved. I get to go on the tour, I don’t have to work as a waitress, anymore, which is nice. I get to do what I love, more than anything. It’s just amazing, the fans that are already reaching out and supporting – it’s a blessing. It’s a relief to know that I will be able to make a living at what I love to do over the summer, and hopefully for the rest of my life. It’s been a really awesome experience. “
It’s been emotional for Didi that last couple of weeks. She’s cried a lot. Has Idol been a release for her emotionally? Or is it just the way she is ordinarily? “I’m not always emotional. I’m actually pretty shocked—when ever something happens …unfortunately it’s right when there’s a camera in my face. (laughs). It’s been an amazing ride, and of course, it’s been emotional, because it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. Reaching that place that I got to on the show was a really amazing thing for me and a really big accomplishment . That was emotional for me. You work so hard, and you just try to believe and keep the faith and just imagine, know that, good things will come, and when they finally do it’s almost…disbelief. It’s a really amazing opportunity—it brought me to tears.”
How she felt about Ryan “dogging” on her to reveal what “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” meant to her, “It was kind of a weird situation—it was a little awkward for me. There’s a time and a place for—I was trying to convey the message through the song, not by somebody asking me why I was singing it. I think it was pretty obvious to people why I was singing it. I don’t think anybody has to have that emotion—I sing the song because I love the song. It was kind of an uncomfortable situation for me, because I didn’t want to answer the question. Ultimately, I did what I felt was in my best interest. It’s all good.
How did she feel when the judges hesitated before they decided not to save her? “The whole crowd was chanting, and that was pretty cool. Ultimately, I kinda felt like I was going home and I thought it would be cool if they exercised the option to let me stay ‘cause I wanted to come back next week , Beatles week, and be great. Regardless of what happened, I was OK either way. I’m not really worried. I’ve had amazing support from everybody and it’s just been a crazy-cool ride. I’m happy because I’m going on tour, and I have a lot to look forward to, so I’m not at all distraught about anything. I want to put a record together–I want to get my music out there.”
What songs was she considering for next week’s Beatles theme? “I’m so bummed. I wanted to do “Blackbird”. I love that song. Blackbird, or maybe “Across the Universe.” I was kind of going back and forth with several. I hadn’t really started to delve into that, though, because I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen.”
Did she lose her way, like Kara suggested? “I don’t feel like I lost my way. I feel like they wanted me to do something specific every week. I kind of went out on a limb several weeks. I did different things and they weren’t expecting it and it was kind of a surprise—just to show that I can do other things. I am a singe/ songwriter and I have that, but I also tap into every single emotion that I have. And that I do very well. That is artistry. Through these songs I was just showing a different side to myself. It probably wasn’t necessarily the side they wanted to see, but I have them, and I think everybody does. I was just being me. I appreciate Kara. I think she was trying—I think they were all trying to be really helpful. I was just trying to do my thing, and it wasn’t exactly what they, kind of, planned out for me, I guess. It’s not every day that you get to sing in front of 30 million people. I just wanted to do different things, and not do the same thing every week—to show that I can do other things.”
How do the contestants get along with one another? “Everyone seems to get along pretty well. I think everyone is doing their own thing, and everybody respects that. It’s kind of like, you know, separate little families, in all of our apartments and everything. It was really nice, actually. I really enjoyed spending time with them, some of them, I think they are really really great people. I really enjoyed meeting all of them.”
Does she think it’s a strong group of singers? “I do. I’m excited to see what happens throughout the season. I can’t wait to watch it. I’m really really looking forward to it.”
What did Crystal say to her at the end of the show? “Lots of things! (laughter) Crystal and Siobhan and I are very close. Crystal actually came down and stayed with me last night. It was nice. They are really amazing, wonderful people. I really enjoyed getting to meet them and getting to know them both. It’s hard when you meet other artists, that you really connect with, and you want to work with, you’re put into a position to compete against each other when really when you’re singing, it’s not a competition. It shouldn’t be a competition. We’re all very different, and unique in our own ways , and we all had something different to bring to the table. We’re all aware of that. We do what we do best, and love each other along the way. I’m really really happy that they are going forward and I wish them the best of luck, and I will see them again.”
What did a distraught Siobhan say to her on stage after she was eliminated? “Siobhan is a really really unique, amazing person. I love her very very much. She’s a total sweetheart. It’s interesting because, I never would have thought, upon meeting her—or anybody—that you’re going to forge a close friendship with them. She ended up being my roommate the first week. Actually, I met her on the very first day of Hollywood week. I was like ‘ahhh, who is this girl?’ She was just herself, she was never anybody else but herself. She doesn’t care, and neither does Crystal—that’s what I really love about the both of them. They are just themselves, and they are very unique and they’re very different and I just really respect them. Siobhan is one of my best friends, and I think that we’re going to be friends for a long time and I thing that girl’s great. They are both going to go really far, and I do love that girl, she’s worked really hard to be where she is, and she deserves it and so does Crystal. They are both really really amazing. It’s tough to leave your friends, it’s like leaving summer camp. But, I’m going to see them again soon. You meet really good friends along the way, and you build relationships with people and then all of a sudden, it’s like, it sucks.”
What kind of music does she hope to be making in the future? “Didi music! I’m going to do my thing—I’m going to do singer/songwriter type, acoustic , low-key, chill, relaxing music. I’m going to put my heart into what I do, like what I do every time. It’s me–folk/acoustic, soul acoustic kind of fusion stuff, with a little jazz, a little bluegrass, and a little bit of everything that I’ve experienced in my life.”
What was it like working with Usher and Miley Cyrus? “It was pretty cool. I realized finally where I was, being there with Miley Cyrus and Usher it was ‘Oh, I’m on American Idol, I’m in the Top 10, ’ which is kind of riding the wave. Honestly, I got further than I ever thought that I would. It was a really cool experience. I’m just grateful to have had the fans and supporters that I did that got me to that point where I actually got to meet them. They were really cool, they were really nice. I’m grateful that I had that opportunity.”
Didi’s sister moved to Israel (her father is Israeli) “My sister went to get her master’s degree in Israel, and she’s very interested in the culture. I have some family over in Israel. Like aunts, and my dad was just in LA. Yes, I have some Israeli background, and yes, my sister made up the nickname Didi, because when she was really young she couldn’t say [my name], so she just called me Didi.”
How did the pace on Idol compare to what she was doing otherwise? “It’s insane, intense—like boot camp for singers. Hear a song, learn it in very little time to sing it on a stage in front of everybody—it’s very, like, it’s a lot of pressure. It’s an amazing experience, at the same time if you want to take full advantage of it, you don’t want to mess up and you want to do everything you can to give them everything you have. It’s definitely an interesting experience and they definitely always keep you busy with Ford shoots and photo shoots—there’s always something. I’ve learned a lot. I can’t wait to sleep! (laughter) I’m exhausted, but, I’m really really grateful and glad that I got the chance to do it.”
On the judges’ tough criticisms, “It’s tough, but you know, you’ve got to get back up and do your thing, regardless of what anybody says—the judges, America, anybody. It’s about your music and your passion, and what you do, and not what anybody else thinks. That’s what I think is a real artist—somebody that just does it. That’s part of everything—you’ve just got to hang in there and be resilient. It can be confusing, but you just got to do your thing.”
Good Day Philadelphia
Good Day LA
Minneapolis MN FOX 9