During Thursday night's episode of "American Idol," the first contestant from this year's Top 13, Nashville's Ashthon Jones, was sent home. The 25-year-old singer's elimination follows her performance of Diana Ross' "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" on Wednesday night (Mar. 9), and although she tried to prompt the judges to use their 'save' with her do-over of the tune, the singer's efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
In a conference call following her exit from the "Idol" stage, Jones cites religion and the support from her fellow Idols as the sources which helped her get through the competition and, she hopes, will continue to help her in the future.
What was going through your head when you heard you were in the bottom three, and then when you were announced to be going home. Was it at all a surprise?
It wasn't a surprise -- I had a feeling. It was one of those feelings where there's so many talented people on the show, and regardless of if I had less votes or less fans, I was still a part of those people. I was still there, and the judges saw something in me that I didn't know I had. So it didn't crush me at all. It doesn't mean that I didn't have fans or I don't have fans, it just means that I had the least votes, and I'm just honored to have been on the show with superstars. All of the fans that I have, they're going to stick by my side, through thick and thin, and that's all that matters.
Both you and Jennifer Lopez shed a tear once you heard you were not being saved. Was it painful to be eliminated?
[Being eliminated] really was not pain -- it was moreso leaving the stage and my friends that I had made. I just had to let it out. I always hold stuff in; I'm a very, very strong person. Over the years the things that I have been through have made me strong, so sometimes you have to let it out, you gotta show your emotion. I'm a real person, just like America. I'm just Ashthon. I'm from Nashville. Sometimes you can't hold back. But I cried because of all the things I went through on the show. I couldn't believe I had made it so far.
If you could go back, would you perhaps have chosen a different Diana Ross song than "When You Tell Me That You Love Me," or a more-known song in general?
As I look back at it now, I chose that song for a reason. I listened to all of Diana Ross's songs, and that for some reason spoke to me in a way that I related it to my life and my experiences and my faith. The love that I have around me -- my fans, my family -- and as I was singing that song, the lyrics is what spoke to me. I didn't understand why that song wasn't a big hit, because it touched me, and for Jimmy Iovine and Rodney Jerkins to turn it into such a current R&B song, I just thought it was amazing so I couldn't wait to get on the stage. America didn't really feel it like I did, but hopefully now that it's on iTunes, it'll begin to touch them like it touched me.
Do you feel it's bad to be the first person out? Will that affect your career?
It's not always bad to be the first person; it could be a good thing because everything that I went through on the show, now I'm going to take it and put it toward my career. I don't think anything is going to stop me, and I think it was all in God's timing and He has something better for me - not saying "American Idol" was not -- but something great is what I feel in my spirit right now, and I can't wait to see what's going to happen.
On last night's show, Casey Abrams was not present due to being back in the hospital. How stressful is it being on this show?
I love Casey so much, and our prayers go out to him; I'm not sure what's going on but I'm sure he's going to be okay. But it can be stressful if you make it stressful. You have to stay grounded, and that's why I believe in God and believe in faith so much, because if it wasn't for Him, I would have been crushed. With that being said, whatever you do -- your medication, whatever you do to continue -- you have to do it because it can stress you out. You're constantly moving; it's fast-paced. Sometimes you don't have time to think. But even when you have those downtimes, you have to go in a place in your spiritual world, your medication, and you have to stop and think about what you've accomplished already, and so when elimination comes, nothing can stop you from being the best that you can be.