Somebody had to go first. Unfortunately, Curtis Finch, Jr. was that first contestant eliminated from “American Idol” Season 12. But he didn’t go quietly into the night. Instead, we had a chance to talk to Curtis following his elimination.

As he was throughout his time on the show, Curtis was charming and fun even in defeat.

What did Mariah say to you after the elimination?

Curtis: She was really just telling me to stay encouraged and to remain consistent and to remain 100 percent authentic, which I think I’ve been presenting myself to be to America this whole time. And so I feel like the job is done.

How did you feel when Nicki threatened to walk off the show when you were eliminated?

Curtis: That’s mind-blowing to me! When she said it, I was like, “Whoa! Make your coins! Get your check.” See, that will make me tune in, because I have really transitioned now from a contestant to an American person that’s watching the show. So I want to see her when I turn on “American Idol.” So I’m glad she didn’t walk off.

What are you planning to do after “Idol”?

Curtis: So many things! I wanna work with Usher… There is a long list that you don’t have enough tape for me to tell you all that. I really just want to be successful and I really want to make America proud. This is the best stage, I feel like. Because there are so many things you get to do, so many people you get to meet!

This doesn’t happen to me every day! So I don’t want to be able to just come around you guys and have nothing to say. The next time you see me, I want my resume to be long. I want to be about 500 pounds lighter. I really want to strive to be the best Curtis that I can be.

What are you going to miss?

Curtis: I’m going to miss it all! But… I’m going on tour, so it doesn’t matter!

Since you and Candice are close, how did she take the news?

Curtis: Not well. And if we talk about it too long, neither will I.

I remember trying out for “American Idol” last season with her. And I remember us both getting cut in Las Vegas, making the Top 70. So we don’t just say, “Oh, we can sing.” We say, “We believe in ourselves so much so to when we wake up in the morning, the no from yesterday doesn’t have to transfer to the no today.”

I love her so much, because she has an incredible gift — just like the other 8 contestants that are left. So she’ll be fine, because the tears are going to have to be wiped away tonight so she can kill next week!

What did you think of the Top 3 tonight?

Curtis: Well deserved! Kree, Angie and Candice have something called “it.” So when they sing, they just fill the room with such global warmness. Because they make everybody want to say whatever the message is.

Did you guys know they were going to rank the results?

Curtis: Girl, no! America thinks we know everything, and we don’t! And so we are living everything live with everybody else.

Were you shocked to be eliminated, or did you have a feeling that it was you?

Curtis: I never had a feeling, because I was already thinking about weeks to come. You never know, and so you always prepare for tomorrow like you’ll be there tomorrow. I was shocked, but I would have been shocked if it was somebody else. Because the Top 10 for “American Idol” this week has been the best ever!

If you could pick one top moment from this whole experience, what would it be?

Curtis: I remember getting done with “I Believe I Can Fly,” and I remember how extremely overwhelmed I felt inside of myself. And so to open my eyes and kind of come back, if you will, to see the judges standing and applauding. And to hear the roars from the crowd, saying “Oh my God, Curtis — I believe as well!” Speechless.

What do you have to do to succeed in music?

Curtis: I really just strive for perfection every time I sing, because I want America to get who I am every time.

You really want to work to be the best you can be. And so if America is voting for you, they are voting for you because they have connected to the authenticity that you bring.

Posted by:Laurel Brown