This R&B songstress showed America that you can be a mother of three and an Idol. Top 7 contestant Lil Rounds sits down with Oprah.com's Screening Room to talk motherhood, newfound opportunities and why she'll never give up on her dreams.
Bradford Dworak: What did your journey on American Idol mean to you?
Lil Rounds: Well, the experience all within itself has been absolutely great. It's opened my eyes to a lot as far as the music industry, because before I did Idol, I never worked with any voice coaches. I knew a little bit about the music industry, but not as much as I know now.
BD: Did you get the chance to perform a lot before you graced the Idol stage?
LR: Really, the most that I did would be singing in my church, and there [were] some times where I would do a concert or a solo at a different church or something like that. That was about it. … Nothing nearly as big as American Idol—having an audience the size of American Idol? Nothing near that.
BD: One of the most important parts for contestants is song choice. Did you feel the pressure to get it right?
LR: I got to the point where I started picking songs that I thought [the judges] would like, or America would like more, so songs that I like and that I love and I feel—that's where I kind of fell off a bit. I got confused at a point because I didn't know exactly what [the judges] wanted anymore because they were switching up on me.
BD: Yeah, it did seem like they gave you different advice each week.
LR: At one point, they told me, "You know you need to slow it down so we can hear that big voice," And then when I slowed it down, it was like, "Okay, so you know you should speed it up a bit or make sure you're not singing too high." And then if I come too low, they said, "Why didn't you sing in your high register?" They went back and forth. It was like no matter what I did it wasn't pleasing them, so I just got to the point where I was like, "Well, as long as America is continuing to vote for me, I am not even going to worry about it."
BD: You got to do quite a few performances on the Idol stage. What was your favorite performance of the competition?
LR: I had two actually. It was my first one, "Be Without You." The reason it was so memorable was because that performance really launched me into the Top 13. I just had so much fun, you know? It was my first time being on that stage, and I didn't know exactly what was going happen with America voting and everything. And when I got voted through to the next round, it was a great feeling, it was surreal feeling. I was excited. And then the second performance for me, it was more "I Surrender," because that song touched me, you know? It really touched home for me.
BD: Speaking of home—what do your kids think of this whole American Idol experience? Can they quite grasp what Mommy is going through?
LR: My 5-year-old understands a bit more than my 4-year-old and my 2-year-old. I call them every day and try to talk to them and just assure them that I am following my dream and this career is going to set us up as a family. They understand a bit more, and the thing is…although I don't feel they fully understand exactly what's going on, they know that they're proud of me.
BD: I'm sure it has been hard being away from them—have you been able to see them?
LR: Yeah, I have been able to see them a bit more now, but now since I started the tour, I'll be able to see them kind of sporadically. I get a chance to get them out to at least a couple of cities that we will be in.
BD: That's great that they get to come and join you for a bit. What else are you looking forward to with the tour?
LR: I am really looking forward to the fact that I get to see about 50 cities. … I have only seen maybe four to five different cities other than Memphis, so being able to get out here and just see these different states and these different cities and seeing the differences between them—it's going to open up a new world to me.
BD: After the tour, do you plan on releasing an album?
LR: Definitely! I want to first of all get a record deal so that I can go ahead and start putting an album [out], and I want to go into the R&B and even pop genre of music because I feel that's where my background lies. A lot of my family sings and my granddad actually played for B.B. King, so I grew up around music and I grew up with the soulful sound—the soulful feel of music. I'm really ready to bring back that older feel of music.
BD: Are there any artists in particular you hope to emulate and bring back?
LR: I am really ready to bring back some of the sounds of Marvin Gaye and some of the sounds of even the Supremes. I feel like now we have kind of gotten off into this genre where all the music has all this bass in it. [I want to do] the kind of music that you can feel in your soul, the kind of music you hear and it doesn't go away within a week.
BD: One of the things that comes with being on American Idol is recognition. Tell us about the first time you were recognized for being on the show.
LR: After the Kansas City auditions were aired and Memphis got a chance to kind of see my audition and everything, I went out to [the grocery store] Kroger and I walked in and then I just walked around, went down a couple of aisles and so, but then I saw people whispering.
BD: I couldn't even imagine getting mobbed in a grocery store. That's crazy!
LR: It was really—I'm like "Oh my God, I cannot believe this is happening in Kroger."
BD: What is more stressful—being a mom or an American Idol contestant?
LR: I would have to say being a mom of three. Because Idol, you know, I could kind of deal. The reason I can deal with Idol like I can right now and how I'm taking it and it's not really just bothering me too much is because I am used to being on my feet. I am used to, at the drop of a hat, having to go take care of something. My son is 2, and I just have to make sure he can't find any water, because he loves water. I don't care if it's in the toilet, wherever it might be, he's in it!
BD: Has anything changed with motherhood for you since leaving the show?
LR: After I left after the show, I didn't have a break. I went straight home, I went right back into mama duties and wife duties so, you know, I would have to say I would take Idol as being a bit lighter than the mom of three.
BD: What kind of music do you have on your iPod? Anything we would be surprised by?
LR: I had a Pussycat Dolls song on my iPod, but nothing too surprising. I love Prince. I have Prince on there, I have Neyo, I have Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Dave Hollister, Anthony Hamilton, the Fugees, Fergie, the Black Eyed Peas, just a whole list of really well-known probably R&B and pop artists. Jasmine Sullivan, I have her on there, but nothing too surprising.
BD: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming artists who hope to have some of the success you've had?
LR: Never get comfortable, never settle, just keep going. Get to as big of a point as you can before your time's up, because we all got to go one day, so you might as well make the best of your life while your here. So I am not going to stop. I am going to keep going to the next level, next level, next level until my time is up.
Catch up with Kris and the other American Idols!
Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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