Paris Bennett American Idol Rewind exclusive

Oct 6, 2009 at 4:47 a.m. ET

With the new American Idol just weeks away, the new season of American Idol Rewind takes a look at past seasons. SheKnows looks back, too, with exclusive interviews with past Idols. Here, SheKnows chats with Paris Bennett.

Paris Bennett on American IdolIn the first of our American Idol Rewind series of exclusive interviews, Princess P -- Paris Bennett -- rings SheKnows to talk about how life has completely changed on her journey from 17-year-old singer on American Idol to recording artist and mother in 2009.

American Idol Rewind

SheKnows: Honestly, we know you were singing at an early age to be on American Idol at 17, but I want to know: What first piqued your interest and made you want to sing?

Paris Bennett: I think growing up in my family. Everyone already sang. Everyone was already introduced to music. My grandfather was a pastor, so being in his church, you went from the little kids' choir to the big kids' choir, and then into your own kind of music thing. My grandmother played the organ. She was the choir director, as well. I was just always musically inclined. I was already set off to sing before I knew that was what I was going to do.

SheKnows: The nature of what you do varies a lot -- the solitude of the recording studio and the performing in front of thousands. What about each do you enjoy? Do you prefer one over the other?

Paris Bennett: I definitely prefer performing in front of people over being in the studio. But being in the studio gives me time to myself to perfect my craft before performing. That's a good thing about the studio. As far as performing, you automatically make adjustments to the type of singer you are because the people allow you to show them the singer you put in front of them.

SheKnows: When the American Idol auditions for you first arose, was it something that you heard about yourself? Or, was it something that a friend or family member had said?

Paris Bennett: My grandparents had mentioned it to me. It was something that they wanted to see if I wanted to do. I wasn't for it, just because I had seen only the judging part of it. I was like, 'How does somebody judge you based on your talent?' I never really understood it, but after them asking me a certain amount of times, I was like, 'OK, I'll do it. But if I don't make it, I won't be hurt. If I make it, I'll go on and see where it takes me, step by step.'

SheKnows: Is there any advice you would impart to the new American Idols who are about to have their lives changed dramatically?

Paris Bennett: Find that something that makes you remain the person you are before the whirlwind. When you go through such a big change, you have to prepare yourself. You have to keep yourself humbled through the whole experience.

Paris Bennet nowSheKnows: For you, as a singer, and a performer, who out there makes your jaw drop?

Paris Bennett: I still get jaw-dropped by Gladys Knight. I still love Janet Jackson, of course. I love Beyonce… there are new artists who make my draw job based on the things that they do -- Lady Gaga, for sure.

SheKnows: Is it still crazy for you to witness the popularity of American Idol, especially when you see the repeats garnering such attention? This year, the spotlight is on your year's top 12 that included Katherine McPhee, Taylor Hicks and Daughtry. What it is like to be flipping through the TV channels and happen upon your days on American Idol?

Paris Bennett: It's definitely an experience. You're like, 'Wow, this is what I did. This was me when I was 17 years old. America watched me grow up.'

SheKnows: Lastly, has becoming a mother altered you in any way as a performer and artist?

Paris Bennett: It's made me more of a performer because now I have more perspective than I did performing just for my fans. Now, I perform for my daughter. It makes me think differently. I think on things a lot harder. I think I'm more of a protector, more than anything -- both for my craft and for my daughter.

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