VIA: Entertainment Weekly

Whether he’s facing the judges or facing down an American Idol exit interview, Jermaine Sellers is never at a loss for words. He talked happily about his eclectic fashion choices, his outsized personality, why he confused Idol associate music director Michael Orland for a certain King of Pop, and who was always on his mind when he was performing on stage.

EW: Hi, Jermaine — how’s your morning been so far?

JERMAINE SELLERS: [Laughs] I feel like God brought me from a mighty long way, you know? I’m here right now. It’s sad that I had to go home so soon, but I just feel like things happen for a reason.

You were also known for what you said off stage, as Ryan pointed out last night. Did you feel like the producers emphasized that more for you?

No. I feel like I had to stand up for the Gospel singers that are out there. We stand in that [Idol audition] line just like everybody else does, and we never seem to make it this far. I was standing in the gap for a lot of the Gospel singers, the singers who can do the riffs, who have the range. You never get a chance to really see them. I felt like even though the judges were saying pull back more, I felt like if I pulled back anymore I wouldn’t be representing my fellow Gospel singers. I felt like I would just be singing the song without it being sang, you know?

Did you mend fences with Michael Orland, the Idol music director who was leading the band that day?

You know, the reason why that night [of the Top 24 boys] that I said “Michael who?” I was thinking that I sang Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” [during that Hollywood Week performance]. I was like, “Wait, are y’all about to say Michael Jackson rose from the dead or something?” That’s why I said it like that. But Michael [Orland] is really cool. I have nothing bad to say about him. Him, Dorian [Holley, music director], Miss Byrd [vocal coach Debra Byrd] — I call her Mama Byrd — they were all there for us. The training that they gave us prepared us for the platform that we’re about to go to.

Especially Mama Byrd. I love that lady. She saved me. There were many nights where I was like, “Mama Byrd, I don’t know what to do. I feel like crying right now. They keep telling me to pull back, and I can’t pull back no more, because if I pull back I won’t be singing. It won’t be me.” And she said, “Well, baby, all I can tell you is go out there and sing. Sing like you at church, like you’re singing to God.”

Your faith is clearly really important to you.

Whenever I sing, I don’t even see the judges. I don’t see them until I’m done with the song. I always imagine God on the cross, and basically everything that he went through. This is just my test right now, this is me going through my trial. So now I’ve gotta get judged afterwards — you know, how they judged Jesus. That’s how I looked at it. I threw the Christian thing out there a lot, because there’s a lot of people who don’t give God the credit for us even making it that far. If it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t have even made it to the show, period, you know?

So what’s next for you?

Of course, I want to act. I definitely want to do what the Kirk Franklins, the Mary Marys, the BeBe Winans [did]. I would say more so what BeBe and CeCe did, many years ago. They crossed over. At the time, it was Video Soul with Donnie Simpson [on BET] where their videos were being played. Songs like “Heaven.” Stuff like that, the contemporary crossover music, to where you can see my songs on MTV. Just something that’s going to inspire somebody and let them know that I made it this far, you can make it too.

Read the full interview here.