American Idol: La’Porsha Renae, Dalton Rapattoni & Trent Harmon
Q) Obviously they did the finale a bit different this year, and there weren’t a lot of artists that were outside of American Idol singing with the top idols. So, I’m curious if you guys had gotten to, who was your idol you would’ve wanted to sing with?
La’Porsha: I don’t know. Let’s see. A lot of them I like. I do like Carrie Underwood a lot, so I’ll go with her.
Dalton: Okay. I would’ve loved to do a song with Childish Gambino. That would’ve been dope.
La’Porsha: Okay, so, anyone…I really don’t know because it would probably be someone from back in the day, one of those soulful singers.
Trent: Elton John.
Q) What is the one piece of advice that both of you will take with you from the judges that you’ll use moving forward?
Dalton: One of the biggest things that the judges stressed to me is to only do music that I connect with and that I relate to, and I feel like that’s what carried me to the top three, was my philosophy in doing that. So, that’s probably what I’m going to take away from this experience the most.
La’Porsha: Oh. I’ll take away, I guess, the experience of learning a lot about how things work behind the scenes but also the impact that I had on so many lives. It’s just a humble reminder that no matter what you’re going through or how you feel about yourself or even how you feel about your gift sometimes, there’s always someone out there wanting to hear a bit of inspiration. So, I think that’s what I took away from it most is being able to touch people.
Q) La’Porsha, congratulations, I read in Award magazine, you’ve signed with Big Machine and Motown Records. How does that make you feel getting that deal signed already?
La’Porsha: Well, I was definitely excited about Motown. That’s a record label that in my household if you made it to that record label, it’s golden. Lots of great legends came from that label, and I just hopefully wish to bring back some of that old school soul music, so I’m really excited.
Q) Trent, what do you see your album looking like? The kind of music? What you see in your future on the album?
Trent: I sing blue-eyed soul. I talked it over with Mr. Scott, and he said Justin Timberlake is thinking about making a country album. So, define country in 2016. I think it could be whatever you want it to be, so we’re going to try to make an album that country supporters would pick up. Country supporters, they go to shows, they go to festivals, they buy CDs, they download stuff. If you can make it in country, you can have a career.
Q) You were incredibly emotional after your win. How do you feel now, now that 20 hours have passed. Have you had any sleep? What’s been going through your emotional brain?
Trent: Well, I’ve got sleep scheduled for next Friday at 2:00, but I really feel like it hasn’t sunk in yet. It hasn’t really sunk in because this morning when I hopped out of bed, I jumped in the shower, I started doing my warm ups and started practicing my song, and I realized that today I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m kind of realizing that I can decompress a little bit at a time, and I don’t know how long it’ll take. It may take a week or a month before I really come down out of, I hate to say, like a PTSD, but I’m still kind of in that mode where I feel like at any moment I could get cut, but I can’t get cut anymore.
Q) Dalton, what’s your game plan? Obviously, you haven’t been signed yet, but what would you like to do once you’re off the show, which I guess is technically now?
Dalton: I’m fortunate enough to have a big team behind me, and I’m able to do this independently if need be. I’m going into the studio on Sunday to write and record a new record, so that’ll be fun.
Q) With no tour, what’s going to happen since you guys don’t have a tour? La’Porsha, are you going to try and hit the studio pretty quickly too?
La’Porsha: Yes. I definitely want to take the momentum from the show and use it to jumpstart my career.
Q) La’Porsha, I want to know what your gut was telling you last night, and could you also tell me what you were thinking when Trent was crowned champion? What was your reaction? What was going through your mind?
La’Porsha: I thought I had a feeling that he would be, so I had prepared myself for it. When he was crowned, I was really proud. Trent deserves it. He works very hard. He’s a genuine person and a real true artist, so I was really proud of him.
Q) You were basically the frontrunner all season long, which I believe would have its rewards but also burdens. Can you talk about that a little bit? Did you feel extra pressure to deliver perfect performances every week? Obviously, there’s only room to go down once you’re at the top, do you know what I mean?
La’Porsha: At the end of the day, it is a TV show, and I knew that being the frontrunner would have its repercussions. I think it didn’t really put pressure. It was more of anxiousness to get a critique at some point so that I could breathe a little bit because there were weeks when I critiqued myself, and I knew I didn’t do as well as I could’ve. It was evident, and nothing was said about it, so I just tried to not let it get to me and just critique my own self and better my own self and compete against myself.
Q) Dalton, I read that you were going to be recording in Austin with a band from Houston, and you know how territorial we get here in Texas. Are you going to stick around North Texas? Are you going to be leaving the Dallas area? Would you have any kind of plans? I’m sure people down here would want to know.
Dalton: Dude, I work wherever people need me to work, but North Texas is my home. I’m definitely going to keep that as my anchor point because, honestly, I can’t relax anywhere else. I grew up there. It’s my home, and I get stressed out everywhere else. So, I always have to come back to North Texas to get myself recharged.
Q) Are you going to keep up any kind of gig or relationship with the School of Rock?
Dalton: Oh, absolutely. I’m always involved with the School of Rock at some capacity. I think it’s an incredibly important program because there aren’t really as many music programs in schools as there used to be or the funding is cut. That’s why School of Rock exists. It’s for the kids that don’t want to play soccer or don’t want to play football because everyone needs that something outside of school, and I think it’s a really, really important cause, and I’m definitely always going to be involved in it.
Q) Dalton, during the judges’ pick that week, they picked “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and then they seemed a little surprised how you sang it, so I was curious, did they not mentor you on that song?
Dalton: Well, the judges didn’t mentor anybody that week. They just picked their songs and gave them to us. Funny you should ask about “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I was practicing it in that key because we had three songs that week, and I didn’t want to blow out my voice, but I had intended on raising it for the show. It was my bad. I dropped the ball and forgot to tell the band that. It was a stupid mistake, but everybody makes them.
Q) Jennifer Lopez mentioned that your gift is making lyrics your own. I’m curious how will you do that more so when you’re creating your own music?
Dalton: When I write songs, I make sure that I believe them 100%. I don’t write anything that I don’t feel deeply. So, anything coming out in the future, which will happen soon, it’s going to be the exact same philosophy as I had on the show. It’s going to be 100% me just trying to talk to people.
Q) La’Porsha, now that you have a lot of exposure on American Idol, and you were talking a little bit about your community. Do you plan on any being more proactive in your community to bring about changes?
La’Porsha: I do plan on using my platform to definitely be proactive in my community to bring about changes. Not just in my community but other communities as well. I will be joining forces with a lot of different people and trying to get the message out there that we all just need to respect each other and get along and co-exist.
Q) Trent credited you for helping him last night after he won. Anything specific that stood out when he said that? Anything that you did specifically?
La’Porsha: Trent is a very hard worker, and he’s genuine in what he does, and he doesn’t like people to lie to him and say he did good when he knows he can do better. So, what we did for each other actually is during rehearsals, we’d listen to each other’s takes and see if there was anything we could’ve done better physically, as far as movement around the stage or vocally. I would tell him maybe not use the high note for everything. Maybe sing out a little bit and save it at the end to make it something special, or surprise them, put it in the middle. There were all kinds of things depending on the performance, and he would do the exact same for me. If I wasn’t pushing myself enough to hit a note, he’d tell me to go higher, or change the key, so we helped each other in that area.
Q) La’Porsha, if you could flash back for a minute to two times. First of all, when you were eight years old and the first Idol came on, what struck you about it at the time, and did you think right away, I’m going to be on it someday? And then the other time is when you were 16, and you tried out for the show, what was that like to try out for it at that early age?
La’Porsha: Okay, so when I was eight, I was watching Kelly Clarkson, and it definitely struck me as this is something I could possibly do when I’m old enough. So, I started working towards that, and when I finally turned the age that was appropriate to try out for the show, 16, I went to the cattle call in New Orleans. I got a standing ovation from the stadium, and I didn’t make it through. The judges said—well, the producers said no. They said I was young, that I could come back and try out again, which it all worked out in my favor because at that time, I didn’t really have much to sing about, and so life happened between those years, and when I came back this time, I sang with a lot of depth and emotion. I was able to emote that to my fans.
Q) Trent, would moving to Nashville be a possibility for you?
Trent: I don’t know at this point. I’m sure that I will float between Nashville and Mississippi and Arkansas for quite a while. I’ve been doing the float between two states for the last four or five years, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it if you manage your time wisely, but I’m down to live wherever I’m happy. If that happens to be in Nashville for the next few years, then I’ll live in Nashville. If that happens to be Belize, then I’ll live in Belize.
Q) Dalton, I want you to flash back just a second to your IM5 days. How it did or didn’t shape you as a singer? You wrote at one point that you never thought you’d see yourself as a dancer or a pop singer and you’ve been doing that for a while. What was good or bad about your IM5 days?
Dalton: Here’s the deal with IM5 as pertaining to Idol. I don’t think that I would’ve been able to do this without having been in IM5. Being in IM5 taught me a lot about how to interact with people in the industry and it also taught me a lot on how to and all of that stuff. I am very appreciative of the lessons that both Idol and IM5 have taught me.
Q) You came into the competition singing music on the soulful side, but you’ll be recording as a country soul artist. Could you talk a little bit about your relationship to country? Did you grow up with country? Do you have a country artist that you enjoy?
Trent: That’s a good question. I was just telling Mr. Scott last night. I said, man I don’t think you fully realize how much country music I listen to because whenever I really got the opportunity to pick the song myself, 100% myself, I was doing country songs on the show. Now that was only sprinkled in very, very rarely because we always get to pick our own songs, but there would be influence from other people as well, but I sang a couple Chris Stapletons, and at that point, I think it was fully realized that this guy is confusing enough as it is, he talks so country but then he sings like a soul singer, well now he’s actually singing country. I’ve always enjoyed all the classics. I love Conway Twitty. I’ve always been a big Conway Twitty fan. I’m a big Elvis fan. Elvis did country. I’m a Ray Charles fan. Ray Charles made a country album. So that’s kind of a point in case right there. Define what country is in 2016. I mean, Ray Charles kind of broke that statement a long time. Justin Timberlake’s working on a country album. So, I feel like with being able to sing multiple genres is going to help me moving forward to make a country album that would be palatable to a lot of different people.
Q) Also wondering, are you a songwriter, and if so, do you plan to co-write for your album?
Trent: I am a songwriter, but that will be decided by the Powers That Be. I don’t always have to have the best idea coming from myself. I just want the best idea. So, we’ll have to see where it leads us.
Q) Dalton, I wanted to ask you what you were planning to sing last week. The two songs you didn’t sing.
Dalton: I was planning on singing “Say Something” by A Great Big World, and I was planning on singing as my repeat song, a full version of “Hopelessly Devoted.”
Q) Can you tell us anything about the album you’re going to start on Sunday? Is it an independent release? Are you on a label? Do you have a producer lined up? Songs written and ready to go?
Dalton: Right now, we don’t have word back from 19 Entertainment on whether they’re going to pick up my option or not. But work must go on, so I’m considering it as of right now to be an independent release, but luckily I have a big team backing me, and we’re going to be able to do that to the best of our ability.
Q) Was it the team you had before Idol?
Dalton: Yes. I’ve obviously gone and picked up a few members along the way, but we’ve grown bigger through it, and we’ve grown stronger through everything, and we’re definitely going to be able to produce some really good music.
Q) Trent, when you talk about blue-eyed soul, whenever you go into the falsetto, I can always hear like Smokey Robinson or Little Anthony or something like that. I was wondering how old were you when you found out you could do that kind of a falsetto, and are there some of these old classic singers that you recall when you’re doing them?
Trent: That’s a good question. Nobody’s ever asked me a question like that. I just really learned that I could do things with my voice that I didn’t know I could do, probably, middle to the last few years of my college experience, so just in the last two to four years. I think I always heard the notes in my head while I’d be listening to Smokey Robinson and The Miracles or I’d be listening to The Temptations. My grandma always played a lot of Temptations and a lot of Michael Jackson, Jackson 5, back in the day when I’d be at her house and we’d be cooking, and I would hear those notes in my head that I would want to sing, but I never tried to sing them, and one day they just jumped out of my mouth.
Q) La’Porsha, are you planning on going back to your small town in Mississippi or will you be relocating to Los Angeles or Nashville to record your record?
La’Porsha: I’m not really sure where I’m going to be. I’m not sure if I’m relocating to Los Angeles, but I definitely can say that I plan on relocating from Mississippi very, very soon. So, that’s still in the air.
Q) Trent, what was probably the most surreal moment for you?
Trent: I think whenever I turned around and I saw my mom and dad and my sister and my puppy dog walk out onto the stage two weeks ago, it was strange because it was like, I’m out here. I know that I’m out here doing this, but when they walked on the stage, I was like wow. We looked good as a collective unit; as a family. We looked like we were doing stuff in the Harmon collective unit. I’m doing something for my family. So that was pretty surreal.
Q) I was wondering from each of you when you are performing, both of you have such emotion and just pure talent that just radiates and comes across. How do you channel your emotions through your performances and connect the songs to all of that?
Dalton: I feel like if I don’t have a song with lyrics that I connect to, then that doesn’t happen. For me, I really have to get in my own head and think about what the song is trying to say and then do my best to represent that with my performance and my vocals, but I always try to do songs that I really strongly connect with.
La’Porsha: Yes. Any time I was allowed to, I chose my own song. I did the same. I tried to choose songs that I connected with and that I related to and that I felt like would inspire people and make them feel good inside. Even though you are, as an artist, supposed to get into character and be able to convey a message in a song, I think it’s very important that you have some kind of relevance with that song choice.
Q) And then after you had won, you had said that it was important for you to work so hard, and I know you said you didn’t want to take it for granted, but was that the main reason why you said that? Why was it so important for you to have worked so hard? I know you had said you didn’t want to take it for granted, but was there anything else that you meant by that?
Trent: I think I understand. I am fully aware that I have a God-given ability, but I didn’t want to coast off of that. I didn’t want to coast for the remainder of the season after my first audition. I didn’t want to just coast off of a pretty voice. I think if I had, I may haven’t been able to make it pretty deep into the competition, but I knew that if I pushed myself and I worked hard and worked really, really, really, really hard, I could be better than just a pretty voice. I practiced interviews, I practiced wardrobe, I practiced how to hold the microphone. I didn’t just take for granted having the ability to sing. I practiced every different angle that I could to be good; to be good and then to be better and then to be the best.
Q) Dalton, what was the best piece of advice you received from the judges that you’re going to use to apply to your future in the music industry?
Dalton: The biggest thing that the judges always beat into me was just to pick songs to do that I connect with on a deeply emotional level and just to always be myself, so that’s what I’m going to be taking away from this.
Q) Trent, who did you get to hang out with among the alumni yesterday after the show was over or even before then?
Trent: You name it. If they’ve been on the show, I got to hang out with them. Some bucket list people that I got to hang out with: I got to hang out with Jordin Sparks again; I got to talk to David Archuleta for a while; David Cook; I had a pretty long conversation with James Durbin; you name it, man. I got to talk to him last night. He was great.
Q) So is it safe to say that you were surprised to win? Did you consider yourself the underdog, and also what did you say to La’Porsha as you were hugging her on stage in that moment?
Trent: No, ma’am, I didn’t consider myself the underdog. When I auditioned in July, I didn’t expect to win, but I prepared to win at every facet of this competition. I told La’Porsha no matter what name comes out of Ryan’s mouth, we’re going to hug until they separate us. I don’t care whose name gets called, Porsha, we just won a car, and you don’t win cars every day, so we’re going to be okay, Porsha.
Q) And you repeated a few times how you worked so hard this season, and I remember Scott Borchetta said in a recent interview that you were the hardest working contestant on the show. Could you elaborate on that? What did you do that went above and beyond the normal Idol requirements and rehearsal schedule?
Trent: I wake up, go to bed, wake up in the middle of the night. If I am awake or asleep I am rehearsing. If I have two minutes to myself to do anything, I am in rehearsal mode. I didn’t know what I was doing, but that’s what it took. I was too dumb to know that I was in go mode all the time. But it paid off.
Q) I want to ask you a serious thing about the song, “Amazing Grace,” because I’ve heard about you a couple times. It was the first song you sang for your mom when you were five, and it was also the one that you sang at your friend’s funeral. What does that song mean to you, and what do you recall of those two experiences singing at those two times?
Trent: I keep “Amazing Grace” in my back pocket no matter where I go, whether it’s a Christian event that I’m at or if it’s not. If it’s just a secular event. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just because I know the words to it or because the words mean something to just about anybody whether you have any religious beliefs or not. That song means something. There’s a reason it’s called a classic. There’s a reason that all these songs that we do are called classics. I would consider that one a classic, too, and I’ve just sung it at so many different things that have meant so much to me; that one’s just special to me. That was the first one that my mom said, “Hey Trent, sing this part right here.” And I sang it, and she said, “Well, can you switch over and sing this part right here?” And that was when she realized that I could sing harmony. When I was four or five years old, and she realized something that I didn’t even realize at that early of an age.
Q) Throughout your journey, throughout all of American Idol, this journey, is there anything that you were surprised to learn about yourself?
Trent: I’ve always thought to myself that if I could ever get to the point, there’s so many intangibles that are encompassed within this reality singing competition. It’s not so much singing, there’s so much that goes into it. I would say singing would be less than 10% of it. But I knew that I could hang in the singing department, but I didn’t know that I could do interviews. Nobody has really coached on how to talk to people in a public setting, and so sometimes, like right now, I’m talking to you having a conversation, and I’ve never done this before in my life. That has really surprised me, and it surprised my parents too. They said Trent, you’ve talked to more people through interviews than you’ve talked to us in your whole 25 years of life. Who taught you how to do that?
Q) As far as the former Idols that you got to spend some time with last night and during rehearsals, were any of them able to give you any advice going forward to how to handle all of this?
Trent: I guess, thankfully, most of the Idols that I got to talk to, they appreciated. They said, “Man, you seem pretty genuine. Don’t ever, ever quit that. Don’t ever get out of that head. Don’t ever, ever quit that.” And they didn’t give me very much advice in the moment. I was lucky enough to exchange numbers with a lot of people that I never thought I’d have their name in my phone book, and they said look here, text me. And I could tell that they meant it. They said text me at any time of the day or night, ask me a question. I got to exchange numbers with Jordin Sparks, and Ruben Studdard. It was just surreal for them to reach out and say, hey man, you’re the last one. We want to help you any way that we can. And I think they mean it.
Q) When Simon Cowell returned and he said he’d give some advice and when you said that for the Idols not to forget the people who voted for you, did you happen to meet Simon? And did he give you any advice?
Trent: Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Mr. Simon, and I am still pretty upset about that to tell you the truth. I was in the dressing room watching it from my television in the dressing room, so I really can’t give a lot of input to that. I wanted to meet him real, real bad. Worse than you probably know, but I didn’t get the chance to.
Q) Oh, that’s too bad, and then, in your redo performance, you sang “Chandelier,” and it really seemed that you had sealed the deal. Anything that stood out that Sia said to you that you’ll take with you for the rest of your career?
Trent: Sia said that she wrote this song from a state of struggling with alcoholism and that if I had a family member that struggled with alcoholism that that would be a route that I could sing that song from. And while I did lose a family member this year that struggled with alcoholism, I tried to go down that path and it was just too morbid. It was too sad. I didn’t want to. I sang it from a happy state. When I asked her, I said, can I do that, this is your song. She said this is your song. For 90 seconds, this is your song. You sing it however you want to sing it. And I don’t think she meant for that just to apply to “Chandelier.” I think she was telling me to take that forward for the rest of my life. Even though I might be doing a cover song at some point, don’t sing it just as from the same head that the person that wrote it or performed it and made it popular from. Pick something from it. Find a lyric in it. My favorite lyric from the Parson James song that I sang last week was, “It’s enough of a fight just staying alive anyways,” and I told Parson that. I said, “Man, that’s my favorite line in the song,” and he said, “Really? That’s crazy.” You just find a line that pulls to you. Pulls on your heart strings, and you go with it.
Q) How does your love for God and your family has played a role when you’re singing, and how that comes through in your performances with all the emotions and everything?
Trent: First of all, if anyone has made it through what I consider, I’d say the only two jobs that I would consider to be tougher than making it through American Idol boot camp, which is what I have aptly named it after the show’s been over, would be a preacher and/or a soldier. That would be the only two jobs that I would consider to be harder than what we just completed. But if you can go through what we just did and not believe in something—I happen to believe in God, and then I would pray. Had a really simple prayer, I would say, especially when I had mono because I was pretty quarantined from the rest of the cast. I would say well, it’s just me and you. It’s just me and you God, and I kept that on my brain at all times when I didn’t have anybody else. I didn’t have my parents out here with me, and it was just me, so I feel like if you could make it through this competition without believing in something, I wouldn’t say I’m impressed, I would say I’m kind of scared because I don’t know what you are. You’re super human, because I couldn’t have done it without him. That’s for sure.
Q) What would you like to say as your final remarks?
Dalton: I just wanted to thank everyone for getting on this call. I really do appreciate all these questions and the thought that goes into them. Just thanks.
La’Porsha: Same here. Thank you for allowing us to take your time and being interested in what we have to say. Thank you for your support, too, throughout this whole entire thing.
Trent: Okay. I would just like to say if they would like to wrap up any of their articles, I know it’s cliché, but thank you. Thank you to them. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview today. Thank you to anyone that voted.