'American Idol's' Karen Rodriguez: 'Jennifer Lopez would have saved me'
Standout experience on the show:
"Just the fact that I got to record 'I Could Fall in Love' and it's selling available on iTunes. Just to able to look up my name and something comes up out of it. 'If I Could Fall in Love' was sung by my idol Selena. She's the reason I began singing. At my age, five, six years-old, she really inspired me and her life was taken away so fast. She never got to her song progress and just to be able to perform it on live television and have people buy it on iTunes and have people tweet me and tell me, 'I love your version. You're making Selena proud,' like that's what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to keep her memory alive and I wanted to let people know that Latinas are back!"
On advice the judges gave her:
" Jennifer [Lopez] has been a fan of mine from the very beginning. She said so herself and she said that I was perfect. She said that somebody had to go home and you know, this is your time. She was rooting for me. If it would have been all on her, I know she would have saved me, she told me. Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson, they both came at me at the end and gave me hugs and kisses and they said, 'You're amazing. You're going to go so far. This is only the beginning.'"
On Steven Tyler's "Ethnic what-it-is-ness" comment:
"I took it at as great thing. Steven and Randy said they love when I incorporate Spanish. They said they think I even sound better when I sing in Spanish, but of course, I wasn't going to sing in Spanish every week. But It's great to know because this is who I am and this is what I grew up singing. I learned Spanish first then English. I know it's called 'American Idol' but there's so many diverse cultures in America and I feel like I wanted to stand up for my race, for my heritage. I'm so glad I did that. I'm so glad I stayed true to myself in such an Americanized show."
What's next for her:
"I can't wait to go back home and sort of reflect on everything that happened. It's been very crazy this past couple of months. I can't wait to start writing, to start bettering myself as a musician, as an artist, as a singer. I'm going to work really hard to just become that artist that's ready so as soon as the show ends and if something comes up, I can totally just be that package. I still have to work on so many things, but I know this time off is really going to help me just better myself."
If it's harder to leave the competition or the other contestants:
"It's both. Of course, I wanted to stay. I wanted to continue, but I live by the 'Words everything happens for a reason,' so maybe my time on the show was meant to be up until yesterday. I'm going to miss everybody and of course, Jacob [Lusk]. We would go to each other for advice 'cause he would ask me what songs he should do and how to sing it. We were just very, very close to each other and I'm going to miss him so much."
Her friendship with Pia Toscano:
"Me and Pia used to be in school together. We were in a group and we would write together There was a time where Pia had trouble finishing a song and she asked me for help and I finished it for her. We performed it. Even though she's older I've always been that bigger sister. I support her and toughen her up a little bit because sometimes she doubts herself. I've always been the type of person to just be there for her."
On connecting with fans on Twitter:
"I check my Twitter every single day, I constantly tweet my fans and post pics up. The contestants actually call me Ms. Twitter Queen because I'm the ones that's most responsive to my fans! I think that's a great thing that they did this year as well because they need to feel that we are human just like they are. They need to be able to connect with us. I want to know what my fans are thinking, what songs they want me to do. I want to know that they actually support me. I want them to see that I'm real, that I can talk to them, that I'm breathing, living. They've been saying a lot of things like, 'Oh, we're going to miss you so much!' But every single person that's tweeted has said, 'We know this is not the end for you. We know that there's so many things coming.'"