Nobody could accuse Curtis Finch Jr. of not giving his all during his run on American Idol.
Whether he was reaching into his soul to elevate the Idol audience to believe they could touch the sky while singing R. Kelly, or making Mariah Carey cry with joy, Finch made it his mission every week to make viewers at home and in the live crowd feel it with every note he sang.
“I always give 100 percent,” he told reporters on a conference call Friday afternoon. “I always felt I had to sing looking towards the end. Even at my Chicago audition, I was thinking about the finale. That’s how hard you have to work in order to be successful. I can’t go through the motions, really, if I want to do my best. My mindset was definitely thinking about the confetti coming down and the crown being on my head."
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However, it must have been disappointing for the 25-year-old St. Louis, Miss., singer that one of his biggest supporters, Nicki Minaj, completely missed his performance of Ruben Studdard‘s "Flying Without Wings" Wednesday night.
Not so, Finch said, because he got his feedback from the judge backstage.
“When I got off stage, she was the first person I saw, and she gave me a high five and told me I did a good job,” Finch told The Hollywood Reporter. “That was very warming for me, because I got great support from all four judges, so it was good to see her face."
He is not concerning himself with who voted against saving him in the end — although he is definitely sure Minaj was in his corner.
“I don’t harp on who said ‘no,’ because that’s in the past. I can’t go back and change it,” he said. "I just look towards the future and try to be the best that I can be where I am now."
He did have glowing words for his other biggest fan, Carey, who advised him to “keep my head up, remain consistent and remain 100 percent authentic."
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“She has been supportive of me both privately and publicly,” he said. “She said I made her cry, and there were moments that I think she really needed that in her life."
He also praised Randy Jackson, whom he said gave excellent advice: “Keep it young."
What he is focusing on is his future — one that he hopes includes collaborations with Alicia Keys and R. Kelly, an appearance on Glee and performing on Broadway. He is also “elated” to go on tour and diplomatically refused to choose between Charlie Askew and Aubrey Cleland, who faced each other in a sing-off for a spot with the top 10 on the road.
Finch is also careful about choosing his musical direction, which could veer into Gospel, Christian or R&B territory.
“I want to go in a love direction, because I really feel like God is love, and as long as I’m not singing anything provocative, or anything that can offend anyone across the world, that I would be doing things that make people feel better about their day,” he said. "What I love about music is people just want to feel things a certain way, and you really don’t have to be offensive to do so."
In the meantime, Idol fans can catch Finch Friday night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Tuesday morning on the Today show.
Follow him on Twitter: Curtis Finch