Paris Bennett: ''Don't be sad. I'm not.'' The latest ''Idol'' evictee tells Jessica Shaw about being ''satisfied'' with the results, the blessing she got from Prince and Mary J., and more

By Jessica Shaw
May 04, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Paris Bennett: Squeaky-voiced child prodigy or squeaky-voiced annoyance? Audiences were divided by this diva in training, but ultimately chose to send the 17-year-old back to high school. Not that Paris is burning up about it. In fact, she barely sounds bothered.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Paris, I’m sorry you got voted off last night…
PARIS BENNETT Don’t be sad. I’m not.

What do you mean you’re not sad?
I’m very happy. I’m satisfied with how everything went on the show. There are so many blessings on the way. I need to close one chapter to enjoy the other one.

So you’re telling me you didn’t even cry once?
Nope. Well, I cried to see the producers and staff cry because I was leaving. That was sad. But never for the show. I was very happy with the judgment. I came in with a smile and left with a smile.

Do you think your performances of Prince’s ”Kiss” and Mary J. Blige’s ”Be Without You” got you voted out?
I was very very happy with my performances. I wouldn’t change them in any way, shape, or form. And for Prince to clear it for me…

He cleared the rights to ”Kiss” because he knew you were singing it?
Yeah — that was the first time Prince cleared a song, and the first time Mary did too.

Week after week, the guest musicians like Barry Manilow, Queen, and Rod Stewart went on and on about how amazingly talented you are.
It was just a big blessing to hear them say I was great and that my voice had something that the others didn’t have. That was a blessing in itself that other people noticed that. I don’t even think I realized how much of a gift I have.

You mean you went into the American Idol auditions thinking you just had a pretty good voice?
When I went into the competition I said I wasn’t going to go for that No. 1 goal. I was going into it because I like to sing and dance and I would love to entertain America.

And yet Simon didn’t always seem to be so entertained. Last night he called you ”screechy and annoying.”
You know, I felt just fine about that. Anything they say I take the negative and make it positive. Nothing knocks me down. I never take anything to heart. I have to be very strong-willed. You can either dwell on it or move on and start a new thing. You have to make it a positive.

How do you make ”screechy and annoying” a positive?
Because everyone has their different opinions of my voice. I can’t help if that’s the way I talk. This is what I was born with. I’m grateful to have this gift.

Speaking of your voice, it’s pretty amazing how high your speaking voice is and how low you can sing.
I hear that a lot. I’ve trained myself to be able to do that. For a lot of singers, having a low register is a great A+. A lot of female singers can’t do that and have to sing their songs at high notes.

I’ve interviewed the eliminated contestants in past weeks and a lot of people said they got very close to you. Were you everyone’s kid sister?
I was everyone’s big and little sister. I wear my heart on my shoulder. I’m not afraid to take in another person as a member of my family. I genuinely have a heart and I love everyone. Sometimes people say you can’t love more than one person, but I do.

Next page: What the judges said after her eviction

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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