Last season on American Idol, Jordin Sparks became the youngest winner in the show’s history. The 17-year-old had originally been turned away when she auditioned in Los Angeles, but followed that up by winning Arizona Idol, a Fox affiliate-sponsored competition, which guaranteed her a place at the try-outs in Seattle. The lesson? Never let a little thing like defeat get you down. Sparks went on to win the competition without ever being in the bottom two or three, and released her self-titled debut last November. The record featured a variety of popular songs, including “This Is My Now” and “No Air,” on which she sings alongside nascent R&B heartthrob Chris Brown. We caught up with Sparks over e-mail to ask her about Chris Brown, this season’s Idol contestants and whether or not she had any tips for performing in front of the judges. Interview after the jump.
VH1: What brought you to collaborate with Chris Brown on “No Air”?
Jordin Sparks: I had been a huge fan of him before any of this happened, and I wanted to work with him then. So when I was asked who I’d like to be with me on the song . . . there was no question. :)
VH1: How was making the video with him? Is he an inspiration of yours?
JS: It was awesome! He made things so comfortable and he was really cool to talk to. I’ve never looked at it like that, but yes, in some ways he was an inspiration. Because he’s my age, when he first came out, it helped me see that I could do it if I really wanted it.
VH1: Who inspires you?
JS: Hmm. Pretty much all musicians inspire me. My taste in music is very broad and eclectic. But if I had to pick a few: Michael W. Smith, Alicia Keys, Kirk Franklin, Crystal Lewis, Whitney, Christina, and Martina McBride.
VH1: What sort of career do you envision for yourself? What makes you happiest — songwriting or performing?
JS: A long, successful one. Haha. And I actually really enjoy both. I’ve been singing since I could speak, and I’ve been writing poetry since I was about nine. I didn’t realize they could become songs when I was a little younger. I thought songs had to be made a certain way. I can see it’s not really like that. It can be anything you want. As far as performing goes, there’s nothing like being on stage and hearing that crowd. I feel like everything is right and it’s where I’m supposed to be. You get to be you, for that small time on stage, and no one can take that away. It’s even better when you’re performing a song you wrote! Double whammy! :)
VH1: If you weren’t a musician, what would be your fall-back career?
JS: Fall-back career, hmm . . . well, I love kids. I said I wanted to be a pediatrician, but after thinking about it, I think I’ll just go in, give them a lollipop and sing to them.
VH1: Do you have any tips for the current cast of American Idol?
JS: A) Get as much sleep as possible.
B) Take lots of pictures.
C) Listen to the judges, but still make it you.
D) Connect with the people through the other side of the camera.
E) Have fun.
VH1: How did you deal with the pressure of performing before the judges on the show?
JS: I’m not sure. I think I actually do better when I’m under pressure. So even though I may have been anxious to get out there in front of them, once I did, it was like nothing mattered and there was no turning back. Their criticism, I thought, was a good thing. It was a good tool for me to use when considering options for my next performances. I would try to apply whatever they suggested and still keep it me. As far as the harsh comments, yeah, it hurts for a minute, but then you just move on. But seriously, if I sang a horrible note . . . I wouldn’t want someone telling me it was amazing. I would want them to tell me the truth!
VH1: Are there any insider tricks or tips that you’d offer the current season’s contestants?
JS: Don’t get lost, stay true to yourself.
VH1: Do you have a favorite among the current season’s contestants? If so, who and why?
JS: All of them have something unique about them. Except a couple of them. Just kidding. Haha. :D But I like Jason’s vulnerability and David A’s youth. Break a leg guys!!!