NEW YORK -- When accomplished backup singer Melinda Doolittle auditioned for the sixth season of "American Idol," she told the judges she was there to "get over the fear of standing in front of people."
On "Idol," Doolittle did more than learn to take the lead. She became a fan favorite and ended up in third place. Many said she should've won, including Simon Cowell.
Two years later, Doolittle is no longer anyone's backup. Her first album "Coming Back to You" is in stores now.
In recent interview, the 31-year-old talked about her music, her "American Idol" background, and the "guilty pleasure" songs on her iPod.
AP: Your fans are saying, "Finally! Your album is out!"
Doolittle: I am so happy to be releasing this record at this point in time. I took my time with it and just really found the style of music ... a retro soul sound ... that really resonated with me.
AP: In showbiz they like to strike while the iron's hot. Were you worried about the break in between "Idol"?
Doolittle: I wasn't impatient, I wasn't even worried. I was just concerned with making sure when I did put something out it represented me well. I think that's probably one of the best things about "Idol." It awards you so many opportunities. You can release a record immediately or you can take your time with it.
AP: You were a backup singer. Is it strange to be out in front now?
Doolittle: Sometimes it is a weird feeling, however, it's amazing. I didn't know how I was going to really deal with it because background singing was my comfort zone and I loved every second of it. When I got on that stage and started doing lead songs, something came over me I was like, "I love to tell a story with this song, I love that part of it ... I'm gonna have my own background singers and my own coming together moment for me." Just a full circle moment.
AP: Everybody has an image. What's yours?
Doolittle: Oh gosh. I'm just me! I don't know how to be anything different except for somebody who loves to tell a story on stage so I hope that comes across. That's probably a really cool part of coming off of "American Idol" where it was reality and you've got us and that's what I have to give right now.
AP: You've mentioned "Idol" a few times. Not every former contestant likes to talk about it. They want to separate themselves from the show.
Doolittle: I don't know how you could get to this point and not talk about "American Idol." For me it was my boot camp. It really prepared me for this moment.
AP: Who's on your iPod right now?
Doolittle: Adele, (Beyonce's) "Sasha Fierce," CeCe Winans, Jason Mraz. I do have Miley Cyrus' "Fly on the Wall" and Jonas Brothers "Lovebug." Those two are like my guilty pleasures!
AP: Who would you love to record a song with?
Doolittle: Steven Tyler. It's definitely a dream of mine to sing with Steven Tyler.