(Miami Herald) – If American Idol’s ninth season sometimes feels like the plot of a Lifetime TV movie — poverty, pregnancies, pity parties — Michelle Delamor’s story stands out.
Perhaps that’s because the Miami contestant who auditioned in Orlando and wowed judges with her take on Chain of Fools is . . . normal.
Until she became a Top 24 finalist, Delamor, 22, was the children’s choir director at Unity by the Bay in Miami. She grew up with a loving family in Miami Shores, graduated from Miami Beach Senior High, and about the only major drama she’ll cop to is, “I was so bad at Driver’s Ed!”
Below is an interview the Howard Cohen and the Miami Herald did via phone from Hollywood where she was busy selecting the song she’s to sing Tuesday night during Idol’s first live show of the season.
What’s your energy like backstage today?
I am extremely excited! This whole experience has been amazing, seems surreal. There were 181 talented people this year [in Hollywood] and I’m so grateful to be part of the Top 24.
The judges say the talent this season was particularly competitive. What did you do to stand out?
You can feel me when I sing and I hope it translates to the judges. I think they were able to see the talent and something special.
What do you think of new judge Ellen DeGeneres?
Crazy. Amazing. I watch her show and prayed one day I would be on her show. She is hilarious, insanely funny and you can’t even get mad when she tells you something. All the judges want you to do well.
Were you a fan of Idol before?
I watched every season. I was always voting and never thought I’d be on the show. I thought I’d do the music industry thing in a different route. My sister said, `If something doesn’t happen by the time Idol comes around you have to promise me you’ll do Idol.’ It wasn’t a month before Idol came around and I did go to Orlando.
How has singing and directing choirs in Miami prepared you for this high-profile show?
A lot of what I’ve learned about artistry and performance is from the church. When you’re singing at church you can’t be in your head, it’s all coming from the heart. That taught me so much. And at Beach High I became captain of the dance team and the adrenaline and everyone screaming helped prepare me for where I am now.
Who in the Top 24 stands in your way to win the title?
You know, I can’t say anyone in particular. I try not to think of it too much that way. I know it’s a competition . . . it’s 24 great singers at this point. Instead of thinking of it as a competition I think of it as a performance and I’m going to give it what I have.
— HOWARD COHEN for The Miami Herald