After the judges used their one Save of the season on Sam Woolf, it was a given that somebody would be going home the following week, and that person ended up being Malaya Watson.

Malaya talked with reporters, including BuddyTV, following her elimination about advice she received from the judges, how her dad has influenced her music, being eliminated and her plans for the future. Also, she’s known as the girl with the big personality who has braces and plays the tuba — when is she planning on having those braces taken off, and was she planning on playing her instrument on the show? Read on to find out.

American Idol Results: Who Goes Home from the Top 8? >>>

Advice from the Judges and Being Mentored by David Cook

The judges are a huge part of the American Idol journey, and the contestants listen to them on a weekly basis to see what they’re doing right and areas they might need to improve upon. For Malaya, she found something Harry said to be really important for her. It was “when Harry told me that I should focus more on my craft rather than my stardom because at first I thought that the music business was all about just how you looked. But it’s honestly all about how you sound, too.” Readers might recall a few weeks ago when Malaya mentioned how she wanted to be a superstar, so this piece of advice from Harry is really important and something she has obviously taken to heart.

Speaking of which, Harry has been given the nickname of Harsh Harry. But Malaya doesn’t think that he’s been too harsh or too critical. He’s just being honest. “That’s the best part about it,” she went on to say. “He actually told you what you should work on, or what you need to do and stuff like that. So I think to me, his advice was honestly the best.”

And as far as taking what the judges say and actively working to make improvements, Malaya also focused on realistic goals. “I just picked whichever opinions [from the judges] sounded more realistic and more of a thing that I could work on to improve myself, and just worked on it.”

The judges weren’t the only ones this past week who were giving advice to Malaya and the other contestants. Season 7 winner David Cook stopped by to mentor the singers, which she found to be really helpful. “He helped a lot with what I needed to work on, and just the things that I’m lacking when it comes to performance. And it’s good because he’s one of the winners of American Idol.” Yes, that certainly helps.

Comparing Harry to Malaya’s Dad

Malaya’s father is a guitar play and she found him to be a big influence on her when it came to music. “If he didn’t do music, I probably wouldn’t have done music either because I never would have been around it a lot. When I was growing up, I was always around music, like all the time. So just having him there, always playing music, it really influenced me to take up music myself.”

She also found herself comparing her dad to Harry Connick, Jr. When Harry would talk to her about different things, like scales and working on runs and whatnot, she understood what he was saying because “some of the stuff that he would talk about is the stuff my dad talked about.” So she feels that the two definitely have some things in common.

Going Back to School 

It’s hard enough going through the Idol process every week, but for Malaya, the pressure is piled on even more because she’s still in school. This is an area that she found to be a struggle while on the show, trying to make that balance work.

She is the youngest contestant this season, and the second youngest in the history of the show (next to Lauren Alaina). So having not graduated yet, will she be going back to school once her duties with Idol are over with? “I still don’t know,” she admitted. “It’s going to be different, very, very different. Hopefully not drastically, but I’m ready for whatever comes up.”

The reason it’s up in the air right now is because she’s “still debating” whether to return to her own school or attend one somewhere else that focuses more on music and the arts. Also up in the air is whether or not to go to college. “It just depends on where I am after I graduate from high school. I don’t know where I would be, what offers I would get, so it would just depend. But if I could go to college, I want to go to Southern University so bad. I want to go there — or a school down south.”

And we all know that at school, she plays the tuba. And she actually was planning on incorporating it into her performance next week had she still been on the show. But since we’ve all missed out on seeing that, she’s hoping to play it on the tour somehow, but she doesn’t know yet how that will work out.

When are the Braces Coming Off?

Aside from her big personality and playing the tuba, something else that stands out about Malaya is that she has braces. When asked if that has affected the way she sings, she found it hard to answer since she started singing (“when I started taking it seriously”) around the same time that she got her braces.

But when are they coming off? Interestingly, “I was supposed to get them off almost three years ago, and apparently that didn’t work out. … [But] I might get them off when I get back home, so I don’t know yet.”

No More Save and Being Eliminated

Unfortunately for her, Malaya’s journey on American Idol came to an end this past week. And since the judges used their Save the previous week on Sam Woolf, that meant she was automatically eliminated and didn’t get a chance to sing for survival. She found that to be “really nerve-racking. You never know when it’s time to go, so you just get nervous.” She also said that she “kind of knew” she was heading home, but at the same time she didn’t because “we didn’t know what to expect.” But she’s adamant that performing “Through the Fire” was the right call. “I’m glad I picked that song. I really wanted to do that song.”

Viewers might have noticed that Jennifer Lopez was getting really emotional while Malaya was singing following her elimination. Malaya took that as a sign that people like J-Lo were realizing her level of talent, “because at first I knew I could sing, but I didn’t know I could sing that well. So it just really showed my musical ability and stuff. So [J-Lo crying] really touched my heart.”

Looking to the Future: Music, Broadway and Movies

While Malaya is unsure about her future academic plans, she knows she would like to dabble in different areas in the entertainment industry. “I’ve always wanted to just venture off and just get big in [areas like movies and theatre] because I don’t want to just stick to just making music.”

As for Broadway, Malaya admits she “can’t really dance — I mean, I can dance if you tell me the routine, but I can’t freestyle. So I don’t mind doing a Broadway-type thing. That would be kind of cool, actually.”

But since we all know her because of her singing, I’m sure her fans want to know what kind of an album she plans to release. “Probably a lot of [collaborations] with people, much more of an R&B-type feel to it, like throwback and up-to-date R&B, and blues and soul.” 


American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

Jeff Dodge

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jeff Dodge, a graduate of Western Washington University, has been a TV news editor for many years and has had the chance to interview multiple reality show stars, including Randy Jackson, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B and John Cena.