Malaya Watson: Harry Connick Jr’s Advice Was The Best (Interview)

Malaya Watson is eliminated from the Top 8 of American Idol

Malaya Watson was eliminated from American Idol in 8th place last night. The 16 year old will soon head back home to Detroit, MI to have a big reunion with her friends and family. But first, she answered reporters questions at a tele-conference on Friday afternoon.

What one piece of advice will Malaya Watson take away from her experience? “When Harry told me that I should focus more on my craft rather than my stardom. At first I thought that the music business was just all about how you look. But it’s honestly all about how you sound, too.”

What’s her favorite memory from the Idol experience? “Performing on the stage, working with a bunch of amazing people that not a lot of people can say they worked with.”

How does she feel about being the youngest finalist in Idol history? “It’s pretty weird! It’s actually kind of cool, though–you can actually be in the books. It’s pretty awesome. I can say it was hard, because you have to focus on school and stuff.”

Will it be hard to go back to high school after this experience? “A great question! I still don’t know. It’s going to be different. Very very different. Hopefully not drastically, but I’m ready for whatever comes up.”

What was it like having David Cook come in as the mentor this week? How did he help her? “He helped a lot with what I needed to work on, and stuff. All the things I’m lacking when it comes to performance. It’s good because he’s one of the winners of American Idol.”

Were the contestants worried after The Save was used on Sam Woolf last week? “It was really nerve wracking. You never know when it’s time to go. You get nervous.”

Was she surprised to be eliminated? “I kind of knew. At the same time I didn’t. We all got nervous, but we didn’t know what to expect.”

Is she glad she sang “Through the Fire” this week? Or does she wish she had performed another song? “I’m glad I picked that song. I really wanted to do that song.”

What was it like for Malaya to see Jennifer Lopez so emotional after her elimination? “It really made me see how talented I was. I knew I could sing. But I didn’t know I could sing that well. It really showed my musical ability. It really touched my heart.”

Does she feel that she grew a lot in the competition? “Yeah. I haven’t grown height-wise. I’m still 5’2” (laughter) but… My performance and singing, I think that’s improved way more. Honestly, lots of people think I just want to talk to everybody. I’m really shy.”

Her dad is a professional guitar player. Did that influence her decision to get involved with music? “Yeah. If he didn’t do music, I probably wouldn’t have done music either. I would have never been around it a lot. When I was growing up, I was always around music, like all the time. Just having him there always playing music, it really influenced me to take up music myself.”

What were some of the struggles she had to face during her run on American Idol? “Managing time with school and working on my music–trying to balance my time evenly and get everything done at the same time.”

What did the judges say to her after she was eliminated? “They told me that I’ll be going far in a couple of years. They’ll see my name all over marquees. Harry Connick told me to work on my music because I’ll be big one day.”

Does she have any advice for other teens who want to audition for American Idol and pursue a music career? “Focus on school–just follow what your heart wants you to do.  I was really hesitant. If you really want to do something, do it while you have the chance. There’s going to be a time where you want to do something, and you don’t do it–you’ll regret it.”

What does she look for in potential boyfriends (this question came from a relationship site. It was odd, to say the least.) :Anyone I date, they have to play football. Be taller than me, with heels. They can’t be stupid. You know the myths–that all football players are dumb. They can’t be dumb. They have to have a nice side. They have to be loyal and honest. Oh…they have to be busy, because my schedule is always busy. They have to understand what you’re going through. You don’t want no whining boyfriend. Oh my God. NO.”

Would she consider a stage or movie career? “That would be pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to venture off, and get big in that also. I don’t want to just stick to making music.”

Did she understand Harry’s advice about working on her runs? “I did. Because some of this stuff …my dad was talking about. It helped that my dad talked to me about that type of stuff.”

Will she return to Southfield High (where she was attending high school in Detroit) “I don’t know yet. I’m still debating. Southfield…it’s a great school. There are more advanced schools…it’s just hard. Southfield’s been supporting me through this whole thing. It’s still debatable.”

What’s debatable? That she might go to a music or arts school? “Yeah that kind of school. Or more private type school, farther from where I’m from. I don’t know yet.”

Does she want to go to college? “It just depends on where I am after I graduate from high school. I don’t know where I’ll be, what offers I’ll get. It would just depend. If I could go to college, I want to go to Southern University–so bad!”

Is Broadway something she’s keeping on her radar for the future? “I can’t really dance. I can dance if you tell me the routine. But I can’t freestyle! But I don’t mind doing a Broadway type thing. That would be kind of cool, actually.”

Was she surprised to receive so much praise on her vocal talent from the judges? “It didn’t really surprise me. I think everything they tell me, I’m just going to ride along with and work on.”

Did her braces affect the way she sang? (At this point she burst into giggles and couldn’t stop laughing as she answered the question) – I’m sorry! Sorry! I don’t know if they have, because I started singing when I got my braces. Maybe it did. I was supposed to get them off almost 3 years ago. And apparently, that didn’t work out. I might get them off when I get back home.”

Is she going to try to work her tuba into the tour? “Yeah. I’m thinking about doing that. Hopefully I can.”

How would that work? “I can’t let you know what I’m going to do on tour!”

Was there any point during her run on Idol when the advice she was getting just clicked? “I always listened to the comments, and just focused on what I had to do, and what I had to work on, honestly. There was never a moment where I doubted what they said.”

If she could go back to the beginning of the competition, would she do anything different? “Yeah. I’d probably play piano more.”

Was she planning on playing the tuba on the show? “Yeah. I was planning on playing it next week.”

As the youngest person in the competition, did she find her self impressionable? Did she have trouble taking in all the different opinions? “No. I just took the opinions that sounded more realistic and more of a thing that I could work on to improve myself.”

When she came into the competition, did she know what kind of artist she wanted to be? Or did it develop during the competition? “It kind of developed throughout the competition.”

What are her thoughts on there only being two girls left in the competition? Could Jena or Jessica win it all?  “I don’t know. It’s tough to decide. The girls are going a little scarce! It’s really weird. But at the same time. You never know, because America changes their mind a lot.”

How hard was it for her to sing her final song? “I was trying [to hold the tears back]. I guess it didn’t work! It was really hard, but at the same time, it was really cool, singing on the stage for the final time. It’s all good.”

If she could choose anybody, who would she love to sing with? “Probably…Fantasia! Oh my gosh. If I could sing with Fantasia, that would be amazing.”

What kind of album would she like to make? “A lot of collabs with people–much more of an R&B type feel to it–throwback and up-to-date R&B.”

Did she ever feel that Harry was too harsh with the contestants? “Oh no. I think he was honest! He actually told you what you should work on, what you need to do. To me, his advice was the best.”

What was her favorite performance from the competition? “There’s no favorite. They’re all amazing. I took the time out to put myself into the song, and just do my thing. There’s really no performance that I like the most.”

Would she like to sing with Fantasia on the finale? Is there anybody she has on her wish list? “Honestly, just her. And some old throw back singers like Chaka [Khan] and Aretha.”

She likes the throwback artists. Is there anything current that she likes? “I do like John Legend. He’s amazing. I like Michael Buble and I do like Bruno Mars and Pharrell. I like a lot of male singers. I don’t know why! I like Tamar Braxton, she’s good too. And like I said, Fantasia.”

Will she sing some of the throwback songs on the tour? “Probably. Hopefully, yes.”

Does she think of CJ Harris as the underdog in the competition, since he keeps surviving week after week, starting out as a wildcard to begin with, “He’s like my big brother. I support him and everybody else in the competition.”

Who does she think will win? “Everybody is just so good. It’s hard to decide who would win.”

About mj santilli 33316 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!