Elise spoke to reporters about her American Idol experience on Friday, revealing her thoughts on the competition and her future plans.
Did you feel nervous going into the results show?
"I never really thought about the results show. It always hit me about a half an hour before it came on air. All of a sudden, it's time for hair and make-up artists and they knew. I didn't really prepare myself too much, I just tried to go with the flow and have fun and think about it when I had to. It is a stressful time for everyone because I'm not just worried about myself, I was worried for everyone else because there was a lot of hard feelings. I feel like I could handle that, but it's hard."
Were you surprised upon hearing your name called to go home?
"I was a little bit surprised, just because in my heart I didn't feel like it was time for me to go. But also, it wasn't a total shock because I'd been in the bottom three that many times. I guess I just felt like a fighter and that I was going to push through."
You have been criticised a bit for your decision to sing a Jimi Hendrix track. Do you agree with what the judges said or do you stand behind that choice?
"I don't agree personally, because those were the best choices for me. I felt that and I believed in it. But everyone's definition of what's right is different, and I guess they think what's right is what the majority of people will take a liking to. Steven said he liked it and was a fan of it but maybe he meant that the melody wasn't one that people could sing along to at home, which the majority of people want to do. But as an artist, I want to get the best from a song and bring the lyrics to life and I think I did that, so I'm happy."
Why do you think you didn't connect with voters?
"I think that the huge majority of voting comes from middle America, so if I can't win them over, it's not going to happen. But that's just a theory - I really don't know. I felt like I was honest and I sang with my heart and passion and that's the best I can do, so, you know... I don't know, I feel like I still connect to the younger demographic. Maybe that's wrong, but as a teacher, I had a lot of younger students and I felt closer to them than people my age, but I don't know if they saw that given the little time they could see me on stage."
Why did you decide to audition for the show?
"I did audition one time when I was younger and it didn't work out. I always felt that I wouldn't be ready for a responsibility of fame until I was older and had kind of learned those life lessons and knew who I was more before throwing myself into the hands of others. Also, I was very inspired by the students I teach at the school to kind of be a role model for more people. I saw how I played a role in their lives."
What kind of album do you see yourself making?
"I definitely learned that my forte is the rock genre, but I also want to have the elements of blues, soul, jazz and funk."
What's next for you after the tour?
"After and during the tour, I'll be writing songs and really kind of constructing a plan to get my album ready. I've been waiting my whole life to release an album so it's not something I want to rush. I want to take my time and experience it and put it into songs. I want to figure out who's gonna be the guests on the album, who's going to produce it and all that. That'll be my main focal point, but I want to perform too."
Are there any artists you know you'd like to collaborate with?
"I would love to do something with Stevie Nicks since she mentioned it. I'd love to have Brian May play guitar, as well as Wallace from my band. Steven Tyler would be a great duet, too."
Did you receive any particularly helpful advice from the judges while on the show?
"Well, being reminded of connecting to the essence of the song is great advice. Also something I know but I need to be reminded of is thinking about being judged and trying to fit into some sort of box. But I'm a singer who steps outside the lines, if that makes sense."
What are you most excited about when it comes to going on tour?
"I'm excited to get on the road and just travel and just share. I'm excited to sing and rock the stage, whole songs and not just the edited version of the song. I shine best when it's real and I have time to get into it - and to see the fans, people who were supporting us from the outside, will be great."
Will you continue to be a vocal coach?
"I think that [my students will] probably look up to me a little more. I have such great bonds with the students I had in Charleston. Some I've been with for three years and watched them blossom. The thing I enjoyed most about that process was having someone come in totally in their shell and seeing them come out of it. That's one of the things that parents tell me, that they're much more confident. I'd like to continue doing that somehow, whether it be one on one or me opening my own place. I'm not really sure, I'm just throwing that out there. I'd like to keep doing it and making a difference in their lives."
Did any of your fellow contestants look to you for advice since you were one of the oldest?
"They definitely would come to me for advice, which I admired and was really excited about. I also went to them - it was a two-way street. When we did group stuff, I felt like a natural leader in that sense just because I've arranged them before. I know what needs to happen and how to do it. I could always see their eyes looking over at me like 'What should I do?' and I was always able to help. I'm not shy about speaking anything on my mind, so if I thought something sounded like crap, I'd say it."
American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox