It was an emotional goodbye for C.J. Harris on Thursday night, as the 23-year-old Alabama native was the latest contestant voted off American Idol. Though he didn’t make the top five, Harris will spend the summer touring across the country with the American Idols Live! Tour, but first he’s just excited to get back home and spend some time with his son. EW was with C.J. after his elimination, and then he stopped by the offices Friday for a video interview.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling?
C.J. HARRIS: Well, I’m feeling just fine. I mean, it did hurt – of course it’s going to hurt anybody at this point when you made it this far. I’m extremely proud. I’m not a guy that just thinks about myself or anything like that. I’m extremely proud of those people that made the top five, and I’m just going to keep pushing with my career. I’m going to make the best out of it. I’m definitely not done. I’m going to keep going.
You got J.Lo to cry. What did the judges say to you after?
She told me just that I got a really good soul and I just got to keep chasing my music career, that I’ll be successful as long as I want it. Keith just told me that I have a really good voice and he expects to see me in the industry somewhere recording an album and, you know, basically they all told me the same thing, I just got to keep pushing, record an album, figure out what I want to do and just chase after it.
Do you think that you’ll take formal music lessons now?
Yes, I’m going to go and get some breathing lessons. As far as guitar lessons and things like that, it’s all up to me and how much I want to learn. I just got to keep playing. I do think some breathing lessons and voice lessons would definitely help, because it just would.
Any plans to relocate to Nashville or L.A.?
Yes, that’s what I want to do. I want to move to Nashville, Tennessee. It’s close to back home, it’s like three hours from home, close up to Muscle Shoals [Alabama], that’s where I think the blues and the Southern rock and all that stuff come from. I want to stay close to home back in the South, like Nashville and different things like that, but wherever life takes me is where I have to be.
A lot of times people know that they’re going to go home. Did you have a feeling at all?
I had a feeling, I did. I mean, I’ve told people, and like you said, they’re so right, a lot of people can just feel it. “It’s their time, it’s their time.” I could feel it, I definitely could. It’s just, there was something about the day, something about the way they were messing with my microphone, I could just tell.
You said that you would probably have changed your song choice if you could go back. What have you learned about picking songs for yourself throughout this competition?
When I’m singing real strong and soulful, [that’s] where I’m at the best point of my voice, when I’m singing down low and I’m on this, I can’t get it out. That’s the way the Zac Brown song started. It started in a real low key and it didn’t show off the power of my voice, so I think it hurt me, but I definitely learned from it.
What about song choices for the tour? Any idea how that works?
I’m not sure how that works, man, but I know if I would have made it through to next week, I was gonna go with “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray, and it was gonna be good. I’d worked at that. It is what it is.
Are you excited to get home and see your son?
Oh yeah, I get to go home [Friday] night, I’ll get to see him and it’s gonna be fun. It’s all gonna settle down and it’s gonna be OK.
You’re gonna have to leave him again to go on tour all summer. Have you started thinking about that?
Yeah, but there’s some places back towards the South that we’ll be going to that I can fly him out to see me, so I’m gonna be able to see him. I just gotta manage it. I gotta get to see my son.
Is there anything you can’t wait to do with him when you get home?
Aw man, he’ll probably just sit on my lap and strum on my lap like he always does. He loves to play guitar and sing and beat on the back of the seat like he’s playing drums. Can’t wait.
When he grows up, if he says he wants to be on American Idol, would you let him?
Yeah, I mean, I’ll let him do whatever he wants – if it’s still on. I don’t even know what it would be then. Whatever he wants to do, if he wants to be a musician, whatever he wants to do I’m [going to] let him decide that on his own.