She may have missed making it into the top 12 on season four of "American Idol" by one spot, but former contestant Ayla Brown has still managed to stay in the public eye over the past year.

She may have missed making it into the top 12 on season four of "American Idol" by one spot, but former contestant Ayla Brown has still managed to stay in the public eye over the past year. Eighteen-year-old Brown has done a number of live performances in support of her debut album, "Forward," which was released last October via Double Deal Brand Records, and she is also a prominent member of Boston College's women's basketball team.

"It's really important to me to be able to sing as well as play basketball," says the Wrentham, Mass., native. She adds that although she wasn't one of the 12 finalists on "Idol," she's pleased with how everything turned out. "At first I was devastated because I didn't know where my life, musically, would lead me. I thought, 'I'm gonna go play basketball now; there's going to be no music in my life.' I really just thought that I wasn't ready for it. But after 'Idol,' I was offered [the chance] to make a CD, and I saw that as a door opening up. Thank goodness I took it, and now I'm able to do both."

"Forward" features songs penned by Diane Warren, Tommy Sims and David Eriksen, among others. Brown co-wrote two songs, "Thanks to You" and "Falling Into You." The album's initial singles, "Know You Better" and "I Quit," were released in September, and the current single, "Forward," is at mainstream AC radio now.

"I love this song," Brown says of the title track. "Mostly because of the bridge -- it comes in with this full chorus of people. It becomes almost this gospel sound." She adds that when performing for a middle school-aged crowd, she always includes the song "Love You Better" because "guys and girls love to get up and dance to that one."

Not only does she want to get tweens out on the dance floor, Brown hopes she serves as a role model to her audience as well. "A lot of younger artists are making bad decisions with their lifestyles," she says. "I really want to be one of those people who says, you can play sports, you can sing, you can be a good student, and no one is going to punish you for it."

This summer, Brown will make a number of public appearances, some of which will feature performances by fellow Massachusetts "Idol" contestant Nick Pedro. The two recently shared the stage at the Jimmy Fund's Scooper Bowl in Boston on June 6.

While there's no set timetable on a follow-up album, Brown says she wants to contribute more as a songwriter the next time around. "At first I didn't really know what the [songwriting] process was about," she admits. "I'd always been a basketball player growing up. But through the process, through 'American Idol,' I learned so much and what you can contribute."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print