American Idol 2013 contestant Burnell Taylor lost everything in Hurricane Katrina when his family’s home was destroyed. If you had asked him back then if he ever thought he would end up being one of the current frontrunenrs on American Idol Season 12, he would have told you to “stop lying.”
 
In an exclusive interview with Wetpaint after he chosen for the Season 12 Top 10, Burnell says he is ready to leave the pain of his past struggles behind and embrace the dream he is living right now.
 
What was going through your mind in that room in the back?
 
It was like, please, please, please, let them call my name. Please let them call my name. I can't go back to New Orleans. So when he called my name, I was like, yes, yes, yes. And I'm just so ready to enjoy the moment and live in it and not take anything for granted. I don't want to get too comfortable just because I'm in the top ten. I have to work as hard as I worked in the past.

Is the competition aspect of it important to you?
 
Yes, and like I said a long time ago, before we even got top ten, I appreciate everybody's craft as much as I appreciate my own. But at the same token, I do think it's important for me to remember that I am my own person, and I'm still here for a reason because there's no one like me. So I'm just ready to do me and just be true to myself.

There's obviously theme nights, and you're doing covers, so it's really difficult to be yourself. But what do you think is the trick to being yourself within the performance?

Just being honest with all the lyrics that I sing, meaning every word that I say, it's just important to be honest to your audience because that's what they react to the most.

But you also do original music. Is it hard for you to sort of let that aspect of that go and do other people's music for ten weeks?

No, because I feel like I prepped myself for this. I have always been a fan of doing covers of people's songs. So it's no pressure. I feel like if you're original, you do you. You don't have to worry about being the next person. So I feel like with any song I'm given, I can make it my own.

So what should we expect? What kind of artist are you?

Straight R&B. R&B all the way. I may want to do some up tempo, but not too much to the point where the audience will be confused about the type of artist that I am because the songs that I pick have been very similar to each other. So I want to maintain that.

Do you think everything happens for a reason?

Yes, I do think everything happens – well, I know. I know everything happens for a reason.

What if I told you during Katrina that this is where you would find yourself?

Stop lying. I wouldn't have never expected to be here, especially after Katrina, but, you know, since I'm here, I'm happy to be here.

The judges cannot stop raving about you. How good does that feel?

Amazing because I never thought that I would have the chance to even have the opportunity to be like, hi, hi. So the fact that I'm having conversations with these people is just amazing. And I have no one to thank but God because he's the one that got me here.

Who would be your dream mentor?

India.Arie, all the way. India.Arie or Brandy, all the way, hands down.

 

Stay tuned for more from Burnell Taylor and the other American Idol Season 12 Top 10 contestants as our exclusive interviews continue!