By Nahal Mottaghian, USA TODAY
The first cut to American Idol's top 10 was made Thursday night, starting with Curtis Finch Jr., the St. Louis native who seems to add a gospel spin on every song ... ever.
Finch's gospel take on Fantasia's I Believe did not seem to fly with voters, leaving the judges shocked. Nicki Minaj even threatened to walk out on the show after seeing the results. But her little temper tantrum was not enough to have the judges unanimously agree on using their one save of the season on Finch.
Finch took some time to talk to USA TODAY in a conference call about plans after Idol.
Q: What kind of album do you see yourself making?
A: I see myself being a very inspirational type of singer, just talking about love. Don't really know what that entails at this moment, I just know that I really live to inspire everybody across America.
Q: If you could get the chance to sing with anyone, who would it be?
A: It would definitely be Marvin Gaye, because I think he is an incredible singer.
Q: Do you regret your song choice, choosing I Believe?
A: I always just say to myself, if I can commit myself totally to a song and the lyrics, then I'm going to commit to it. So I don't regret a thing.
Q: What were your plans for next week?
A: Really the same as every week. Just to give it my all and do the best I could, but America didn't choose that way so here I am.
Q: Do you think Nicki Minaj's absence for your performance affected anything?
A: Absolutely not. Nicki Minaj is not the only judge on the panel. At the end of the day if I begin singing and no judges have no responses, it's still up to America.
I mean, if Nicki wasn't there or if she was there, I really feel like things happen for a reason. If she was supposed to be there, she would have been there.
Q: Were you bummed that she missed your performance though?
A: When I got off stage she was the first face I saw and she gave me a high five and told me I did a good job that was very warming for me because I always look for the great support from all four judges.
Q: Was there any embarrassment in being first one sent home from top 10?
A: Absolutely not, I really feel like if I was going to get eliminated, there is no embarrassment in getting cut 10th or 5th. It is what it is, I get a chance to tour with these guys, I get a chance to travel the world and grow as an artist with these guys so no embarrassment, all gratefulness.
Q: When you were singing for the save, did you really think there was a chance that you would get the save, considering they only get one shot to save someone?
A: You never know with American Idol. Some things work in your favor and some things don't. They didn't choose to use the save on me but I'm sure whoever they choose to use it on - since everybody left is extremely talented - it will be well deserved.
Q: How do you feel you have grown as an artist since first auditioning for the show?
A: I feel like there are so many things that I know now that I didn't know at first.
Q: How did you feel about Nicki's reaction when she said she would leave the show if you leave?
A: It made me feel good, because really I sing from my heart and I really feel like I touched Nicki's heart in such a way that she didn't want me to leave.
Q: What was going through your mind when you found out the results?
A: I always expect the worst. I was prepared either way to make it through or to go home.
Q: Many of your fans have said that they will stop watching the show now that you are gone. What do you say to that to make sure they keep tuning in?
A: I really want everybody that has been supporting me to keep supporting my friends because I'm talented, I know that, but at the same time there are nine talents that are still left. I want them to call and to vote because these guys, every single one of them, deserve to be the next American Idol.
Q: There are so many different directions you can go in, what's your plan?
A: I want to go in a love direction because I really feel like God is love and so 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. What I love about music is that people just want to feel things in a certain way and you really don't have to be offensive to do so.
The summer tour is coming up. I'm very elated about that because I get to grow as an artist with (other Idol hopefuls). I would love to sit down in the studio and work with Alicia Keys, R. Kelly. Maybe go on Glee and try and do some acting. Maybe Broadway. Really, the sky is the limit.
Q: Why American Idol and not one of the other singing shows?
A: American Idol is the show of all shows. It searches around the world for talent. People really get the chance to be discovered. Without American Idol, there would not be The Sing Off or The Voice or any of these other shows. There has to be a chalkboard for somebody to learn something off of. American Idol is that. It's original, it's the best, it's the No. 1 show. I love it.
Q: What was going through your head the first time you sang in front of a huge audience?
A: I really want to make them smile because I really feel like I exude joy, so I really want everybody that hears me sing to feel happy because there are so many things going on in the world to frown about.
Q: You received a ton of praise for your last performance, were you shocked about the elimination?
A: Not at all. I have always learned to expect the worst so that if the worst happens I don't look surprised. People are always watching how you handle things. It is always my responsibility whether things work in my favor or not to remain calm and know that I have to set the best example when eyes are on me.
Q: You and Mariah (Carey) have made a connection. After you were eliminated, did she give you any support or advice?
A: Absolutely, she always gives me great feedback and so she really didn't say anything different than she has been saying since I came on the show. Keep my head up, remain consistent, and remain 100% authentic.
Q: How are the judges this year? Did you think they were critical enough?
A: The judges always talk with so much passion. So however they feel about a contestant, whether it be in a good light or a bad light, they're going to say it. I really feel like I have been favored in this competition. The fact that I've brought consistency every time I've sang and I gave it my all, I think the judges really recognized that.
Q: What were you doing this time last year?
A: Getting ready for a concert at my church.
Q: Who have you become close with?
A: I thought that when I was leaving St. Louis I was leaving my family. I didn't think that God would give me a new one.
Q: What is one of your favorite moments?
A: That time I got a chance to sing I Believe I Can Fly. The energy from the audience was amazing. I felt like I was standing in a room of believers, knowing that they could do anything once they set their mind to it.
Q: What has been the best piece of advice on of the judges has given you?
A: Randy (Jackson) asked me how old I was and I said '25' and he said, 'I think you can sing anything and I want to make sure that you understand how to keep it young.' That's why I kind of tried to changed up my dressing style.