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<i>American Idol</i>: Didi Benami Goes the Way of the Dodo

Somewhere, an American Idol is crying. Actually, they're probably all crying, either due to a frustrating rehearsal, missing their family or something mean Simon Cowell said, but one in particular, Didi Benami, has become known for shedding tears at the drop of a hat. And now that she's been voted off the show after a so-so rendition of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," she's either weeping tears of joy at the lack of viewer support or tears of happiness for not having to be in any more Ford commercials. Either way, we spoke to her as part of a conference call, and she talked about how Idol is like Los Angeles, why she lived in her car and how she's really not that emotional a person under normal circumstances. Try not to cry too much.

Were you at all prepared for the scrutiny you faced while you were on the show?
Didi Benami:
No, actually I wasn't prepared for that. I was not an avid American Idol watcher, so I didn't really know what to expect. Honestly, I was just being myself, and I did stuff that meant something to me, and I also had a good time. So, I wasn't expecting that, no, but I am okay. I dealt with it, and it's actually interesting, because it was a lot like my Los Angeles experience. You get kicked down, but you've got to get back up again and start over. It's not anything I haven't dealt with before. So, no big deal.

Tell us a little more about that Los Angeles experience?
Benami:
Oh, boy! It's crazy. I moved out here when I was 19, and I've had crazy roommates and all sorts of ridiculous experiences where I moved around a lot. There were points where I didn't even have a place to live, and I was living out of my car, and it's been rough. I was waiting tables, and it's never been predictable. I switched jobs many times. It's never really been a stable environment for me, ever, living out here, until just recently. I wanted to sing, and I somehow managed to find my way, because I didn't really know what I was doing. I taught myself how to play guitar and write out everything that was bothering me, or anything that I had on my mind and couldn't say in reality to somebody because I wanted to be nice. And, I was able to start writing songs and meet people that wanted to co-write and, from there, just really started honing my skills and took voice lessons. I worked really, really hard to get where I am, so I'm just grateful that I had the opportunity to be on American Idol in the first place, because it's a great platform for me to be able to get my music out there and to continue my song writing and my love and my passion and what I was put here to do.

How long ago was it that you were living in your car?
Benami:
Oh, God! Well, there are several different occasions. Probably within the first year that I was here, I would say. It was, let's see, I moved five or six different times when I first moved out here in 2006, so it was between 2006 and 2007.

Are you relieved you made it to the Top 10?
Benami:
Yes, I am relieved. I get to go on tour. I don't have to work as a waitress anymore, which is nice. I get to do what I love more than anything, and it's just amazing, like the fans that are already reaching out and supporting. It's a relief to know that I will be able to make a living at what I love to do over the summer, and hopefully, for the rest of my life. So, yes, it's been a really, really awesome experience, and I am relieved, yes.

It's been pointed out that you've cried a number of times during this season. Has this been a release for you emotionally, or is this just the way you are ordinarily?
Benami:
Music is definitely therapy for me. It's therapeutic and I do it as a release, and it's who I am. And it's funny, because the cameras always catch me whenever I am emotional, which sucks because I'm not always emotional. I've actually been pretty strong through this whole thing. It's just whenever something happens or I break down, it's unfortunately right when there's a camera in my face. You work so hard, and you just try to believe and keep the faith and imagine and just know that good things will come, and when they finally do, it's almost in disbelief, and it's a really amazing opportunity, and it brought me to tears, so...

You and Siobhan had a moment on stage, and I was just wondering what kind of friendships you've forged with these girls.
Benami:
Siobhan's a really, really unique, amazing person. I love her very, very much. She's a total sweetheart. It's interesting, because you never would have thought upon meeting her, or anybody here, that you're going to form such a close friendship with them and then she ended up being my roommate the first week. I actually met her the very first day of Hollywood Week and I was just like, "Oh, who is this girl?" She was just herself, and she was never anybody else but herself. And she doesn't care, and neither does Crystal, and that's what I really love about the both of them, is that they're just themselves. They're very unique and they're very different, and I just really respect them. And Siobhan is one of my best friends, and I think that we're going to be friends for a long time. I think that girl's great. They're both going to go really far, and I do love that girl. She's worked really hard to be where she is, and she deserves it, and so does Crystal. I think that they're both really, really amazing. It's tough to leave and leave your friends. It's like leaving summer camp. But I'm going to see them again soon. It's just you make really good friends along the way, and you build relationships with people and then all of a sudden it's like, you know, it sucks.

Next week is Beatles week. What songs were you thinking of singing?
Benami:
Dude, I am so bummed. I totally wanted to come back next week. I wanted to do "Blackbird." That was my first choice. I love that song. It was either going to be "Blackbird" or maybe "Across the Universe." I was kind of going back and forth with several, so I hadn't really started to really delve into that, though, because I wasn't really sure what was going to happen. And you always have to try and stay present, so...

What kind of music do you hope to be making in the future?
Benami:
Didi music. I'm going to do my thing. I'm going to do singer/songwriter type, acoustic, low-key, chill, relaxing music. I'm going to put my heart into what I do, like I do every time. It's me -- it's all acoustic kind of fusion stuff. A little jazz, a hint of bluegrass, a little bit of everything that I've experienced in my life.

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