Lauren Alaina still needs work on high heels. She wobbled and fell down some stairs earlier this month, her sprained ankle landing in a cast for a couple weeks.
The cast came off earlier this week and she was able to perform on Tuesday night in Oklahoma City without it. “I’m so glad to be out of that darn thing,” said the 16 year old rising junior from Rossville, Ga, in a phone interview earlier this week from Grand, Prairie, Tx, the next stop on the48-city tour. “It drove me nuts that I couldn’t walk across the stage. I had to hop. People had to help me up and down the stairs.”
Off stage, she said she had to be escorted by wheelchair to get from one place to another. “It was hard to go quickly with crutches,” she said. “It was so embarrassing [to be in a wheelchair.] People laugh at what happened. It’s not really funny.”
Fortunately, Alaina said the sprain healed relatively quickly. She’ll be ambulatory, in other words, come July 26 for the sold-out Gwinnett Arena date.
On the vocal side, she said she’s had her share of struggles, especially that blown-out vocal cord before the finale. She said it’s now “much clearer and so much better.” And she’s enjoying the concert experience, getting to see people’s faces rather than a TV camera.
For the concert, she picked her favorite from “Idol,” “Flat on the Floor” by Carrie Underwood. She also sings her single “Like My Mother Does.” She let the producers select the third song, which ended up being The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young.” And she does a duet with Scotty McCreery, the winner.
I then asked her about whether she thought she’d make it to the finals once the final three were she, Haley Reinhart and Scotty. “I thought I was going home,” she said, under the presumption two country singers couldn’t possibly make it to the finals.
She expects at least 100 family and friends will travel from the Chattanooga area to Duluth to see her, including her beloved cousin Holly, who was at her first audition.
In the meantime, she has picked all her songs for her first album. Now she has to do the vocal tracks. “I love upbeat songs that people can dance and have fun,” she said. “But I also love country music that tells a great story. I think I got some of both.” Among the writers she’s working with includes Brett James (who helped write “Flat on the Floor” and “Jesus Take the Wheel” for Carrie) and Luke Laird (Carrie’s “So Small”) She hopes a song or two she helps write will make it on the album.
Does she feel the pressure? “Absolutely. I’m definitely nervous about it. ‘American Idol’ is all cover songs. I now have to do songs nobody has ever heard before. It’s going to be interesting to see how people respond.”
After the tour in September, she plans to spend some down time with her family. She enters 11th grade, too. Clearly, she’s going to have to get a lot of private tutoring presuming she’ll have to do a lot of promotion for her new album.
For now, during concerts, when there are breaks, she naps. “I can sleep anywhere,” she said. “I can lay in the middle of a road and fall asleep!”
One interesting tidbit: the women are not allowed on the guy’s bus and vice versa. But Lauren says the guys are far messier than the ladies, based on what she’s seen in their dressing rooms.
And her clearest memory of that trip to the Atlanta Lenox Square Mall Microsoft Store opening in late May? “I told a joke on stage. I said I was never so happy to have my hair frizzed out. There is no humidity in California. But the minute I came to the South, my hair went crazy. And I was happy!”
ADDENDUM: While sales are going well in most parts of the country, tickets, I’m told, are still on sale in Orlando, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Philly, DC, and Albany.