Where are They Now: American Idol's Kimberly Caldwell (Interview)

Kimberly Caldwell made it to the top seven on American Idol’s second season. Though Ruben Studdard took home the recording contract that year, Caldwell has seen just as much success after appearing on the singing competition. For seven years she held a variety of hosting gigs on Fox Sports Network, MTV, VH1, Oxygen and TV Guide Channel before releasing her debut album “Without Regrets” last year.  Reality Idols recently had the chance to chat with Caldwell about her experience on the show and her successful life after Idol.

Reality Idols (RI):  What was your favorite part of being on American Idol?
Kimberly Caldwell (KC): The nationwide tour was insane! We traveled together to 55 cities in like 65 days and had a chance to really connect with the fans. It was such an adventure.
RI: Do you think your experience would be different with the new judges versus the original trio? If so, how?
The new judges are a lot less harsh and it’s probably because Steven and Jennifer are performers themselves. They know how devastating it can be to not get an audience’s approval so they tend to be more on the contestant’s side. I love watching the new judges because they get so into the performances and really feel it. I think that gives the contestants an advantage because they have gracious faces to really let go an give it their all. I would have loved to be on the show knowing what I know now, but proud to be a part of the original version.
RI: Do you keep in touch with other American Idol contestants?
Yes! Quite a few of them. Just talked to Ruben the other day and he sent me some signed merchandise for a charity event I’m hosting. Justin Guarini was my co-host for a long time on TV Guide Network and still is a dear friend to me. Hosting Idol Tonight and Idol Chat on TV Guide is actually how I met most of my Idol friends. I have a show in Branson, MO, coming up with my boys, Blake Lewis and Elliott Yamin.
RI: Do you watch any talent competitions? If so, what are your thoughts?
KC: I watch Idol, of course, and they really snagged some great talent this year. I love The Voice. The judges have the best chemistry. The blind auditions make it all about the voice and I’m always sitting on the edge of my seat to see which one will spin around and make a contestan’ts dreams come true.
RI:  What advice would you give future American Idol contestants?
KC: Give it all you got. It’s hard to be yourself completely when you have cameras shoved in your face, but relax and try not to take yourself too seriously while still giving 100%! It’s tough, but this could change your life forever.
RI: How has your American Idol experienced helped (or hurt) your career today? Was it intimidating once American Idol wasn’t there to guide your career?
After American Idol, I was lucky enough to fall right into a hosting career with Fox Sports then TV Guide Network and continued to host for MTV, VH1, CBS and Oxygen. Somehow in there, I co-wrote and put out an album as well. If you work hard and stay focused, Idol can really give you a leg up. It’s something I will never be ashamed to claim.
RI: Let’s talk about “Without Regrets.” Was it a difficult transformation from TV hosting back to singing?
KC: I have been on a stage with a mic in my hand since I was five. Whether its singing or just entertaining, I’m right at home either way. There’s nothing like belting out a song and running around a stage though.
RI: What was the creative process like creating your album? How long did it take to record?
It took forever and a day to release the album. I started writing two years before those songs ever saw the light of day. It’s so therapeutic for me when I’m writing, so it was such a release to create the music. I was actually in the studio on and off for about a year and a half  trying to really get it right.
RI: What’s your favorite track on the album?
I would have to choose “Say Love”.  It’s my baby. I hope to continue writing songs that have that much raw emotion and stay that honest in my lyrics. It’s a tear jerker.
RI: Any plans for a sophomore release in the future?
Not a set plan yet, but neither was “Without Regret.” I’m in the studio constantly writing and recording and loving the excitement of not having to color within the lines. I just create and  enjoy. We will see what the future has to offer once we get to the next page.
RI: You recently hosted VH1’s Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy Camp. What was this experience like?
KC: I have hosted many Mark Burnett Productions so it’s like working with family on their shows. So laid back and fun that it doesn’t seem like a job. Meeting people like Sammy Hagar, Phil Colin and all the other Rock Gods was just as exciting for me as it was for the contestants!
RI: Do you prefer presenting to singing? Is it hard to find balance between the two careers?
As long as I’m performing, I’m In a good place. I have really grown to love hosting and interviewing and I’m lucky enough to be able to do both on a regular basis. One day I’m traveling to sing, and the next I’m on a stage running the show so I’m a happy girl.
RI: Any future plans fans can look forward to?
KC: I have a couple of gigs books over seas this year which i cant wait for! I just filmed a guest role on TNT’s “Franklin and Bash” airing this Summer and my show “Best Ink” that I’m the host of, will premiere on Oxygen March 27th at 10pm. Please tune in and stay tuned for what’s next!

by Melissa Warner on March 19th, 2012

Melissa is Unreality TV's X Factor USA expert, bringing you all the gossip on the contestants and religiously recapping their performances each week! You can follow her on Twitter and on Google+

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