How does it feel to win?
I'm still trying to process it. I don't even know my name! Oh my gosh! I don't know what's happening! It feels amazing though to finally have gotten to this point after working so hard for so long.
What made you keep coming back and auditioning for the third time?
Well I actually have some friends that decided not to come back but I always knew for some reason that it would happen if I kept going. I even said at some point said, 'American Idol' obviously doesn't want me. Why would I go back?' but I found myself on the website looking at the auditions again… just being determined. I just couldn't turn away because I knew that if I kept trying that it would happen.
Keith was saying you held your own against Jennifer Hudson...
I was so nervous backstage. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh; you cannot suck. This is Jennifer Hudson! Don't mess up. Practice. Get it together.’ I'm just so glad that I got the chance to even do that with her because I look up to her.
You were saying Kree's name over and over just before Ryan announced you as the winner…
I was saying her name because I was just certain he was going to say her name so I was like "Oh yeah, Kree, Kree, Kree’ and she was like ‘No. Candice, Candice, Candice.’ We are super supportive of each other and I know no matter what, I'm going to be buying Kree's album. I think the whole world will.
What are you going to do when things calm down tomorrow?
I'm going to try and go to sleep. I don't think I'm going to get the chance to sleep tonight but I'm going to try and sleep as much as I can and probably eat some chicken or something.
The turn around on your album will be fast. Have you already been recording?
Actually the only song that I've recorded is one that I performed when I won the show... my gosh what am I saying? That's only one I have right now but I know that I'm ready to work.
Do you remember even singing your winning song?
I don't remember him saying my name. I do remember getting confetti in my mouth while I was singing. I wanted to laugh but I was crying and there was just so much happening in that one moment but it felt great.
What was your favorite song you performed?
I think it's pretty obvious that "Lovesong" Is probably my favorite one, only because I was so connected to the lyrics and I knew what it felt like. And then for Keith Urban to start getting on his knees and bowing and Randy being here for 12 years and saying it was the best vocals of his whole 12 years on the show… It felt great because I didn't expect the reception that I got to be so big. And Mariah threw glitter at me! That was the best moment.
Who would you love to duet with?
Well Jazmine Sullivan is my favorite singer, Whitney Houston…I would have loved to do a song with her. That would have been amazing. Even though she wasn't there, I would say Aretha Franklin. I mean the whole time tonight, Kree and I were making faces and where like, 'Oh My God! She is so amazing' and the whole time to be on the stage was a dream come true. A lot of dreams came true for me tonight.
When will you direct message Drake to be on your album?
Isn't it even crazy that I can do that though? That he even follows me on Twitter! I don't know. He knows that I was in the Top 2 because people have been tweeting him and he did say that he was proud of me!
Was it weird when Aretha basically said that you won?
I don't know. I didn't really hear that. The fact that she even knows my name or knows who I was… But I love her so much. The whole night was just amazing!
Are you looking forward to going home?
I don't think I'll be going home until at least Christmas so... I know that there is so much lined up for me to do.
What was it like being on this season with Randy?
I got his final critique ever last night since I went last! I told him that I was so glad that I was able to experience this with him. He knows how long I’ve been wanting this. I love Randy!
Did Nicki and Mariah say anything to you after the show?
Nicki came up to me and said I was a superstar! She wanted to hug me! She was joking when she was saying, ‘Can I hug the American Idol?’ Every time I say that, I just can't believe it! She always tells me to have fun and be myself! I love Nicki and would love to collab with her to be honest! I didn't see Mariah and get to speak to her but I hope that I do.
What do you think you learned the most from being on the show?
I think I've definitely learned how to be confident and how to be myself and to be okay with who I am. In previous seasons, I was doing what I thought America wanted or what the judges or whoever wanted, but this year I just did whatever I wanted to do, hence I would do a rappers song on the show, or I would do The Cure when nobody expected me to. In previous seasons, I wouldn't have done any of that because I wasn't confidant in who I was so I think that's the difference between now and the previous seasons.
What's the first conversation you had with Kree after you found out you won?
We tell each other we love each other probably 90,000 times a day but it really meant a lot for her to hug me and say, ‘I love you and I’m so happy for you.’ And I said the same to her. I'm so proud of her and I can't wait to see her again so we can have fun tonight.
Are you looking forward to the tour? What songs are you looking forward to performing?
I'm definitely looking forward to the tour because I don't have to worry about getting eliminated the following night or going home or worrying about votes or anything. I’m definitely going to miss the show but I think that's the one thing I won't miss, being stressed out every Thursday. I don't know what I'm going to perform on the tour yet, but it's going to be good so I hope y'all come!
Can you talk about the original song and so what you thought when you first heard it and read the lyrics?
When I first heard the song I was actually in tears because I could connect with the song so much. It's not only about a girl who's been done wrong by her ex-boyfriend, it's also about like with me, being attacked all the time and being told that you're not good enough or you're not as pretty as you should be, just people saying horrible things to you. I think that that song is a message to everybody who ever said that to me as well as all these girls who are growing up and feeling like they're not beautiful. I think it connects with a lot of people in their hearts. So I loved it. And like Mariah said, it was a little bit more pop than I was used to but I definitely did what I could to put myself in there at the same time.
How nervous were you last night and how did you feel about your performances?
I was really nervous because I had never performed in front of 7,000 people before but it also gave me that adrenaline that I needed, so I was really excited at the same time. I'm a perfectionist so I found something wrong with every performance, just a lot of things that I could've done better. But I'm glad it all worked out! I won!