Former American Idol Finalist Melinda Doolittle: 'Glad for Grace'
May 22, 2009 - It's all about the "idol" this week — American Idol. The hugely popular program reached its conclusion Wednesday, with Kris Allen, a 23-year-old from Conway, Ark., taking home the title.
Interview by Ann Marie Chilton
Both Allen and third-place contestant Danny Gokey have expressed faith in Jesus Christ, joining a long line of Christians who have reached the finals. Melinda Doolittle, who finished third in season six, also says her faith in Jesus fuels her.
In addition to participating in several performances and philanthropic events last year, Doolittle joined Michael W. Smith on a cruise tour and finished recording a new album.
This past fall, she joined a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association music video shoot, where she sang to honor Billy Graham’s 90th birthday.
We caught up with her backstage to ask her about life after American Idol:
Q/ Do you ever get nervous when you perform? How do you overcome fear?
A/ (Melinda laughs) I pretty much deal with fear just about every day, and if I’m going to get on stage, definitely.
God gives me grace for the situation. Sometimes it doesn’t hit until the music starts, but it will hit. I just shake a bit before. During, I’m so calm, at peace, and loving every second of it.
Q/ Who is your idol?
A/ My mom. She is the very best. She was a single parent, so it was just really the two of us. She’s fun; she keeps me grounded. She keeps me loving life and learning to laugh at myself.
Q/ How do you keep a positive attitude with all the ups and downs, being afraid, getting ready for things, and traveling? How do you maintain stability in your life?
A/ First of all, I know this is what God wants me to be doing, so there is a peace in that, that is beyond anything I could think of. Other than that, I pray a lot!
I still get nervous, but it’s so exciting to be up there and to really have a voice that people are listening to, so I have a platform to say things that are really important to me. And that’s the biggest thing, outside of even singing, I end up meeting people that are like, “I was touched by this,” or “I was touched by that,” so it makes me want to keep going because it’s something that really affects people.
Q/ So the words that you sing are important …
A/ The words are definitely important, but the thing I think is important after that is your life after the song is over because I think people really watch what happens when you step off the stage and you walk away from the lights and the microphones. That is even more important to me.
Q/ What have you been doing, outside of the stage, this year?
A/ Wow, everything! I’ve had a great time. I got to go to Tanzania this year as part of a presidential delegation. I went to the world summit in Tanzania.
I’ve been working on a record, and it is finished. It’s coming out soon. I’m way excited. It was a fun process.
I’ve done a lot of corporate dates benefits and things with Malaria No More, which is an organization I’ve been working with quite a bit … with an organization in schools that teaches kids about character traits and community service.
Service Nation had a September 11th program where both presidential candidates spoke. That was really cool to see them both in-person and see what they had to say about service and what we can do in our communities. I sang the national anthem.
Q/ On that note, what is your favorite song to sing?
A/ The new single on the record is called “It’s Your Love,” and at first, I was kind of nervous about singing it in front of people, but that was just the first time. Now I have so much fun! That’s probably my favorite at the moment. It can change.
Q/ You were a music major in college, and now you have a voice coach ...
A/ I do, She’s also my best friend.
Q/ How important is it for you to have a coach, someone that guides you?
A/ It’s extremely important to me. To me, especially the kind of songs I end up doing, they’re hard work. So if I don’t take the right approach to it, then I would never have a voice. I would lose it all the time. She’s just a lifesaver.
Q/ In the same sense, do you have anyone who is a spiritual coach to you?
A/ I do. Recently I’ve been talking to a lady, she and her husband, I met them doing the Michael W. Smith cruise in July. She is just a breath of fresh air. She is a great accountability partner and just a wonderful woman all around.
She definitely keeps me grounded. I can call her all the time. She’s come to Nashville and we’ve had lunch and just spent some time just talking about everyday things that you just miss out on. I travel a lot on weekends. It’s so great to have her.
Q/ I read one article about you where you said that above all, you want to represent Christ well, which is a great intention; but what do you do when you mess up?
A/ I repent, and I start over again! We all mess up, and I’m sure I probably mess up more than anybody. That’s part of God’s grace and His mercy. He knows us. He knows that we mess up, and He knows that He loves us. I’m so glad there’s grace for it.