MacKenzie Bourg – American Idol
Q) What advice were you given throughout the competition that you’ve really taken to heart and will come with you in the future?
MacKenzie: I found that my best moments on the show, whether it be “Hallelujah,” “Billie Jean,” “Roses,” or even my audition, it was always moments where I was fully myself. It was moments where I did what I do, and that’s kind of like get up there and play guitar and just me and the guitar up there. I’m taking that moving forward and knowing that it really resonates with people being able to grab an audience with just a guitar. That’s kind of what I’m looking forward to doing moving forward.
Q) Fans are also wondering what’s next for you and if there’s a chance you’ll be touring?
MacKenzie: Yes, there’s definitely a chance I’ll be touring. I don’t think the show’s going to do a tour, but yes, that’s definitely the plan, and to release “Roses,” the song I wrote and played on the show. That’s definitely in the plan to be the single. It’s kind of a moving ball right now trying to get that out and ready as soon as possible.
Q) So, obviously, you have a huge following in Louisiana. We’ve all been cheering for you and now you have this huge national platform, followers, across the nation. We’d love to see you back home at some time. But, how does the love from outside of your home—we saw the reunion last night, the love from across America, across the states—really translate to your future?
MacKenzie: Yes, absolutely. The reason why I wasn’t as bummed as I guess people would have hoped is because I get on Twitter and Instagram and all these other things and there’s so many people that—I don’t even know these people and they’re sending me nothing but love and support. Those people want me to succeed just as much as the people at home. So, it’s kind of like I figured however the competition does shape out, I would be alright wherever I ended up.
Q) I know a lot of the “Who dat?” fans down here want to know will we see you in the dome at some point this season?
MacKenzie: Yes, absolutely, for sure. I spoke with Harry Connick last night and we talked for a bit. I made sure to tell him that we’ll have to connect at a Saints game if he’s there.
Q) Was it a surprise to you at all that you were eliminated considering you’ve never landed in the bottom before? I know, Dalton [Rapattoni] seemed particularly shocked when he was declared safe, so I don’t know if he was telling you guys he thought he was going to be the one going home.
MacKenzie: No, actually, I, pretty much, I was about 98% that I was going to go home this week. After the classic rock week, the judges—the only person that really got any kind of mixed reviews was me, and the judges’ comments sway the votes a good bit. So, I kind of knew right after the show, I was pretty bummed then. I had a week to get over it and accept it and move past everything to start real life and my real career.
Q) Can you tell me a little bit about the two songs that you were going to sing last night? How did you feel about them? Did you connect with the lyrics? Did you feel confident in the delivery you probably would have given? And I guess, were you disappointed you didn’t get to sing them?
MacKenzie: Scott’s [Borchetta] pick was “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. And that’s the one I was really bummed to not be able to do. I had a pretty cool arrangement for it and it really sat well on my voice. The judges’ pick was “Take Your Time” by Sam Hunt, and I wasn’t exactly into that song too much. But, I had done a version of it and it really came out alright. So, I mean, I wasn’t overly bummed about that one but I would have loved to have gotten the feedback on “Rhiannon.”
Q) You left the show so graciously and you said that you feel like you’ve already won. Can you explain a bit further about what led to that conclusion for you?
MacKenzie: Yes, as cliché—and I know a lot of people say it, but I actually meant that when I said that. There’s so many people, I mean, last night I just posted a dumb tweet like I always do, and just said retweet this if you’re in it for life with me. I think it’s close to 7,000 retweets right now, and that’s nothing to shake your head to.
Q) Was there a piece of advice from one of the judges that really changed everything for you during this journey?
MacKenzie: I think it was when Kelly Clarkson was a mentor. She said to me it’s really awesome that I was one of the people that you can—I know the artist I am, and I know what I want to do. I just have to do it. So, taking that, it made me more confident in who I am as an artist knowing that someone like her and someone like the three judges recognize and appreciate me as an artist. I’m on the right track.
Q) I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about your song choices last week. Was the rock pick, “Want Me to Want You,” your first choice?
MacKenzie No, it wasn’t. It was probably my fifth choice.
Q) How did you feel about singing it? Were you just not very excited about it?
MacKenzie: Actually I felt—I wasn’t necessarily excited. I originally came in with, “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi, and I had a cool arrangement for it, kind of like a striped-down acoustic. And then, I came in again with, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” which looking back I probably should have just done that, even though it wasn’t something super special. But then, it came up, Scott suggested, “I Want You to Want Me,” and the arrangement, I thought, was pretty good. I actually spoke with the producer who does our iTunes tracks, he has produced the last two Cheap Trick’s albums. He said to me when I was recording, “Hallelujah” that Cheap Trick loved it and they actually told him my version was better than theirs. So, I do think that maybe if the judges weren’t so harsh on the arrangement that things might have been different. But, I’m happy with where I’m at and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Q) You said last week was a tough week before you performed. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that?
MacKenzie: I don’t know, I felt—I don’t know the right word for it—almost picked on by the judges for that rock pick. They all kind of went at something that I couldn’t necessarily completely control. It bummed me out knowing that it wasn’t really my voice that was anything wrong it was just the arrangement with the band and all that stuff.
Q) If you had your choice of your dream artist to sing a duet with, who would that be and why?
MacKenzie: Let me think. I would probably say, I mean, just thinking of it vocally, Taylor Swift would probably sound really good singing with me. I know that she did a song with Ed Sheeran that was really awesome that would definitely be a cool song that I think I could do with her.
Q) And as far as the song “Hallelujah” that you dedicated to your hometown, what made you make that choice?
MacKenzie: “Hallelujah” was one of the first songs I ever learned, and when I first started playing my first shows, I played it just because I didn’t—I only knew four or five songs. Once I got my feet under me and started playing more shows, I would just break it out and play it at shows. Even though it wasn’t the craziest thing in the world, it was a reminder to me of how far I’ve come. I had a hunch that I was going to go home last night; I had a really good feeling actually. I just wanted to go out with something that left a good taste in people’s mouth about me and just really—I’m trying to think of the right word—encapsulated—if that’s the correct word—everything that I’m about. I think I did that and left a good mark on people.
Q) We found a performance of it on your YouTube channel from a few years ago. I’d love to know what inspired you about that song when you’re channeling your emotions and how do you essentially channel your emotions through when you’re singing it because it definitely comes through?
MacKenzie: To me, the song was more than just the lyrics. It was—I don’t know, it’s like a reminder of how far I’ve come. I sang it so passionately just because I know that, I remember five, six years ago when I first learned that song like how bad I was at the song, and how I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d be on the biggest stage in the world performing that.
Q) What song you would say is your personal favorite when it comes to love songs.
MacKenzie: I like the song that I wrote, “Roses.” I think it’s a pretty cool love song and that’s what mine is.
Q) When you are performing love songs, how do you channel that and maybe even who are you thinking of when you’re singing love ballads to help get that through?
MacKenzie: The easiest way to sing love songs on the show is to stare at J.Lo in the eyes. It kind of works sometimes whenever she realizes. She commented on it a few times this year, but yes, that’s definitely who I’m channeling when I’m on the show.
Q) I love that they played “Roses” with your good-bye package last night. How did that—that must have been so emotional hearing your own song getting played last night?
MacKenzie: It was great. The only thing that I really was bummed about is that my coronation song was going to be “Roses,” and that was going to be the first time ever they said that an original song would have been that. It’s all going to work out, I think so, because I’m going to get to release “Roses” as my single. That’s all being worked out right now.
Q) Your hometown visit was so emotional. I was getting teary-eyed watching you go into that ICU room. How overcome with emotion were you during that whole visit?
MacKenzie: The whole visit, I mean, the hospital, it’s actually—where I was at in the ICU, it’s being completed redone. So, it added to the spookiness of it all because the whole rest of the hall was empty and they just recreated the exact room I was in. I didn’t really know what to expect and then I walked in and realized it. I don’t know, it was a lot to handle, but it was definitely something very powerful and moving for me to do.
Q) You had mentioned before in an interview about your experience on The Voice versus your experience on Idol and that you felt like you could really showcase who you were on this show. Would you care to elaborate on that a little bit?
MacKenzie : Yes, absolutely. I think American Idol has done me so many favors just by not trying to change me, by letting me be myself. I feel like me with just a guitar, and just going up there and singing like as if I was in my room, has really resonated with so many millions of people in the country. I’m thankful every day that they’ve given me the opportunity to do that and even to perform a song that I wrote, twice, on national TV, I couldn’t have asked for a better time on the show.
Q) And we got to see a “MacKenzie-it” every week. I wish I could see a “MacKenzie-it” on tour. Are you sad about that, about not being able to go out on a tour?
MacKenzie: No, I think it’s going to actually—the tour would have been fun, but it also takes away from taking that first step as being an artist. I think it will take away from putting an album together and setting up a solo tour. I think a lot of the times every one gets so caught up in the Idol tour that there’s not a lot of time to put together something meaningful music-wise.
Q) Did you ever find the judges’ criticism confusing because I remember Jennifer told you she wanted you to stretch yourself and challenge yourself vocally, but then after you achieved those results, I think it was in the song, “Titanium,” Harry bashed how you’re smarter than to focus on the high notes of the song? I just want to get your thoughts on all that.
MacKenzie: Yes that confused the crap out of me, too. That week was so interesting to me. I didn’t really have any truly negative comments before that week. Harry knows, he knows it’s a TV show, too. So, I don’t know, it was interesting that he made such a big deal out of that, knowing that we do those digital packages and they’re edited. We don’t edit them; someone else does. So, I thought it was—obviously, J.Lo stood up for me, as well as Keith. It was weird that he downgraded what I was doing. To me, I was really stretching myself and really pushing myself, but it is what it is and I’m still happy to be where I’m at today.
Q) It was apparent that sparks were flying between you and Lauren Alaina earlier in the season, at least from her end. They even showed her gushing over you again in your final package last night. I have to ask, did you reciprocate those feelings at all for her? Did either of you reach out after that episode? Maybe there’s potential there for something more than a friendship?
MacKenzie: She’s been awesome. I know she has a boyfriend, so I definitely have kept it just friendly. But, yes, she’s been so supportive of me. She sent me encouraging texts congratulating me. She’s been a great mentor, not just musically, but in the encouraging department, too.
Q) So you were going to sing “Roses” as your coronation song, which would have been incredible. Were there any other songs you had planned if you had made it through to next week?
MacKenzie: The only ones we had—actually I don’t know if I can say, okay. I was going to do “Roses” as the coronation and then “Billie Jean” as my repeat performance.
Q) MacKenzie, what would you like to say to fans and supporters?
MacKenzie: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. There’ll be exciting stuff happening in the next few weeks.