Chris Cuffaro / FOX
March 20, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

In the semifinals, Simon Cowell compared her to Kelly Clarkson. He called her a dark horse. One to watch. Alexis Grace seemed to be cruising toward a solid spot in the American Idol season 8 competition. But then the petite powerhouse vocalist performed Dolly Parton’s ”Jolene.” And just like that, she was sent packing. Here’s what the single mom from Memphis had to say about her premature departure.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling today?

ALEXIS GRACE: Um, I feel good right now because I’m doing a lot of fun stuff, interviews and stuff like that. But I am a little sad to say goodbye to everything, that the American Idol journey is over for me. But there’s more to come.

I’d imagine you’re getting support from the people you’re talking to today. There’s a lot of outrage that you were voted off so soon. What happened?

I don’t know. I really appreciate everybody’s support. I had no idea that people felt like that about me. I feel so grateful and blessed. I don’t know what happened. I thought people connected with me on Tuesday night. The way the show’s formatted this year, it happened so fast that you just have to be the bomb when you come out there, every time. So I think it just wasn’t a bomb night for me.

Simon seemed to be a fan. He called you a dark horse and even compared you to Kelly Clarkson. Then you’re the second person to go. Was that a shock?

I’m disappointed because, yeah, Simon said great things about me, and I wanted to show, ”Yeah, I can do that! Definitely!” And then the second week I’m gone. I’m like, great. But I know that I won’t let this stop me. So who knows what the future holds? But I feel like there are some good things to come. I’m just going to keep working at it.

Are you planning your next move?

Yeah. I’m gonna go home and start writing music, putting myself out there, and staying in contact with my fans and keeping them updated with what I’m doing. I want to start a small fan base and work my way up to the top.

I guess the upside is that you can be with your daughter now, right?

Yeah, totally. We’re gonna spend time together. I’m gonna get back to singin’ and performing. And I’m gonna try to get an album and a record deal. That would be great.

There’s a lot of chatter from American Idol viewers who think it’s unacceptable that you were voted off before Scott MacIntyre and Michael Sarver. Is that a comfort to you at all?

I think that Scott has got his thing going on, and Michael’s got his thing going on. They’re both different, like everybody else in the competition. I don’t think it’s really fair for people to say that. I mean, America voted for them, so obviously they did something right that night. They’re singers and artists and they’re gonna do well. You know, it just wasn’t my night.

You’re very gracious. I guess it’s in your nature.

My mom blessed me with the name, so…[Laughs]

NEXT PAGE: ”I don’t know who all is voting. But I can imagine a lot of them are teenage girls, and a lot of them are going to vote for the boys. But you know, I don’t even think about it, really. If you’re good, you’re good.”

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