Lauren Mascitti is torn. On the one hand, she was really looking forward to vying for the American Idol title this season, and she had a pretty good shot at making it deep into the competition, thanks to her years of hard work writing songs, releasing albums and making connections in Nashville. On the other, she was forced into a showdown with her new BFF on the show, fellow Nashville-based country singer Grace Leer, and she really wanted the best for her Idol roommate.
In a first for the long-running series, the judges couldn’t decide who the final top 20 spot would go to, so they threw it to America. The results aired on Sunday night’s second American Idol: This Is Me clip show, and the drama kept viewers in suspense until the very last minute. With the series planning to broadcast from all 20 semifinalists’ homes, as well as the judges’ and host Ryan Seacrest’s home bases, beginning next Sunday, Mascitti ended up on the cutting-room floor.
But in an interview with Billboard on Monday morning (April 20), Mascitti made it clear that there are honestly no hard feelings and that the future is wide open for her and her fiancé and fellow songwriter, Shawn Camp.
What did it feel like to be up against your friend Grace for this spot?
You would think it would be super intense, but they made us roommates that week and we got to know each other really well. She’s from California, I’m from Ohio, and we both live in Nashville now, but we didn’t know each other from Nashville prior to this and we got to be really good friends. Honestly, it made me feel better to walk up with her, with someone I consider a friend. I didn’t really feel like a competitive environment. Everyone was super supportive of each other and genuinely happy whenever someone does well.
Have you talked since the news was revealed?
Yes. We’re both still good friends and supportive of each other, and that won’t stop. It’s a good experience to be in it with someone you consider a friend. It was a really sweet experience.
What was the first conversation like after you found out that America would vote this way for the first time?
My fiancé and my nan were there. I’m just overwhelmed by the outpouring of love on social media and people who watched me on the show. I’m trusting in God’s plan for me and I’m trusting that His path was for Grace to keep going and His path for me was something else. I’m happy either way because my future is in God’s hands, and that’s the best place for it to be.
So you and Grace really never once met or sang at the same showcases in Nashville?
You auditioned with Shawn, who’s written songs for major country stars, and you just released your latest album in January. Any chance you guys will release a joint project now?
We write together; that’s how we met. We met through a mutual friend who really liked my songwriting and has written with him and they introduced us and said, “I think you guys would write good songs together.” And we ended up falling in love. There are a few songs on my new album that we wrote together and he produced that project, which I paid every penny for from my nurse’s salary. I can see that in the future — we’d be like Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.
What was the hardest thing you had to on Idol?
Oh my gosh, Hollywood week! For sure. The days are so long and I’m a registered nurse and I work night shifts. I’m used to 12-hour — 7 p.m.-7 a.m. — shifts and it being nothing. But having to go all day waiting to perform, performing, and then finding out the results and spending the rest of the night having to stay up and work on songs for the next day, getting to bed at 1:30 a.m. and then getting up at 4:30 a.m. was intense. By the grace of God, I got through it. I proved something to myself… that I want it bad enough to go through it.
In your clips, we saw you wanting to be a musician from age 3. How do you think this journey will affect your career going forward?
I’m just gonna take everything I learned… I feel like I’ve grown as a performer and songwriter and I do feel like I’ve grown from this experience. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and keep doing the thing I’ve done my whole life: write the best songs I can and sing them the best I can to make people feel what I’m saying.
Katy said you and Grace were almost like twins. Did you feel like your sounds were that similar? Maybe too similar?
I feel like we’re very different. Grace and I talked about it and I’m very much into old-school country — I’m obsessed with old country singers and songwriters, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Dolly Parton. And Grace is more into ’90s singers like Martina McBride, Shania Twain and Jo Dee Messina. I feel like those worlds in country are very different and there are a lot of different branches of country music to choose from. There are people that like one type and people who prefer the other. It’s just about what we love. But I do feel like we’re very different.
What surprised you most about being on Idol?
I really don’t know if I can even answer that. I wasn’t expecting a pandemic to happen in the middle of it either! I feel like I wasn’t expecting it to be such a positive experience. I was excited to be in it, but I didn’t realize I would make the friends I made through the process and that the American Idol staff would be so kind and caring toward everyone.
The judges loved your performances, but was there anything you think you could have done differently?
A lot of people have commented about my song choice and maybe not going with such a well-known song for my Hawaii performance [Emmylou Harris’ “Two More Bottles of Wine”], but Emmylou Harris is a huge inspiration to me and the guy who wrote that song is a huge inspiration to me also, Delbert McClinton. I love that song so much and I’ve performed it for so many years and I’m comfortable with it. I did the best I could on that performance, so no regrets. I’m happy with what I did and it represented who I love and am influenced by and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Can you describe what it felt like when producers told you they were sending everyone home because of COVID-19 and doing things remotely?
That idea was tossed around for a while in terms of live shows and saying maybe we go on without an audience. So they finally gathered everyone up and said, “We’re going to send you all home,” and in a way I was disappointed because all 21 of us were there and getting really close and of course we wanted to continue working on our music and working with the vocal coaches. But at the same time, it was a very weird time. It’s comforting to know I’m here with my family at this time.
We saw a lot of your nana in the packages. How did she take the news?
She’s my biggest supporter. If anything, this all made it worth it for so many reasons, but when the episode with “God Made a Woman” aired, it was so mind-blowing to me. My whole life I’ve wanted to shine a positive light on my nana for all she’s done, and I’ve never had the platform to thank her and thank God the world got to see the woman who raised me and is just my hero. It was so moving to me and I love her so much.
What’s the most fun you had with your nana in Hawaii?
It was her first time in Hawaii and… just eating the local food and Shawn and I and Nana got to see Pearl Harbor, which was a really moving experience. And also just getting to spend time with each other in such a beautiful area. I made memories I’ll carry with me my whole life.
Have you heard from any past Idol winners or contestants about your run?
Yeah, [2018 Idol winner] Maddie Poppe tweeted about it, that was really nice. Someone who tweeted to me in support who wasn’t an Idol contestant was [country singer] Carly Pearce, which was really special. I know after round 1 of the Hollywood performances when I did “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” Crystal Gayle posted a video of my performance and I was so starstruck by that. She was a huge one for me, and I grew up listening to Crystal and I had hair long enough to sit on until freshman year, so that was amazing.
You just released an album in January. What’s next for your post-Idol music career?
Since I got such a great response to [original song] “God Made a Woman,” and I never released it to radio, it’s going to country and Americana radio this week. So if you can call in and request it from your stations, that would be amazing!
Nurses are in high demand now due to COVID-19. Are you going back to work right away?
I will be going back to work pretty soon now that my time on American Idol is over. But another thing [Shawn and I are] doing is a Martin Guitar Jam in Place livestreaming event on May 7 at 7 p.m. ET. You can get on there for an auction, if anyone wants to donate to benefit the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, but it’s free to stream. It’s a way to pay it forward a bit. But I will go back to work soon. That’s my profession and I got into it because I want to help people. I’m really excited to get in there and help my colleagues.