Alexis Grace Surprised, Saddened By American Idol Ouster

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American Idol fans weren’t the only ones shocked and disappointed by the surprise elimination of early favorite Alexis Grace Wednesday night.

“I was like, ‘Is this a bad dream? What’s going on?’” the 21-year-old Memphis native said Thursday. “It’s hard. I’m obviously disappointed.”

The news was particularly hard for the pink-haired hopeful to swallow as it means she just missed making the cut for this summer’s American Idol tour.

“I’d set a goal for myself to make tour,” says Grace. “But everybody has their times where they don’t do exactly what they want to in life, and it only gives them more encouragement to work harder. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

For a brief moment on Wednesday’s show, it seemed Grace might get a reprieve with the new “judges save” rule, but after she forgot some words to “Jolene” and cracked a couple notes, judge Simon Cowell said it “wasn’t good enough.”

“If I’d remembered the words and been more in control of it, that might’ve helped,” Grace laments, but added. “It’s still very early in the game and I could see why they would want to save it for later. It’s better television.”

Grace says she had grown particularly close to fellow Idol Megan Joy, who’s also a young mom. The two joked that if they’d both made the tour, Grace’s daughter Ryan, 2, and Joy’s son Ryder, also 2, would become “boyfriend and girlfriend.”

“But they still can,” says Alexis Grace with a laugh, “because [Megan Joy] and I said we’re going to buy condos on the beach somewhere right next to each other so they can go over and play with each other all the time.”

Her biggest challenge on American Idol was being away from her daughter, even though she called her every day so the two could sing the Barney song together.

Alexis Grace is looking forward to their reunion next Tuesday, when she returns to Memphis after a round of press in New York City.

“I’m going go home and watch Elmo with her,” Grace says. “We’re going to go play with the toys in her bedroom. That’s the first thing I’m doing, and I can’t wait.”

When Ryan gets older, Grace - who is engaged to Ryan’s father but so far has not set a wedding date - hopes her daughter will learn from mom’s Idol experience.

“It’ll show her that you’ve got to work hard for what you want and never give up,” says Grace, who plans to eventually record a blues/soul album. “Because of this, I think I’m going to have a really great daughter. I feel very proud.”

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American Idol Quotes

Brooke White's tears come from the authentic, good soul that she is. Her heart was breaking because she was overwhelmed with the experience she had with the show and the gift that it brought.

Paula Abdul [after Brooke White was eliminated on season seven]

I read some of this online this morning and just for the record, the rumors — they’re not true. She’s part of our family and we love her.

Ryan Seacrest [on rumor of Paula Abdul being drunk on the show]