In what's been called the biggest upset ever on TV, soulful singer Kris Allen beat out Adam Lambert to win this year's "American Idol." Momlogic spoke to Kris's mom, Kim, about her son's newfound fame, her friendship with Adam Lambert's mom ... and how he'll always be her little boy.
momlogic: As Kris's mother, what was going through your mind before and during the finale?
Kim Allen: It's kind of funny because we had our whole family resolved to the issue that it didn't matter. I was thrilled Kris got to make it to the top three, and that he was able to come home and have the home visit. It was an incredible experience for all of us. After that, it didn't matter anymore. We were so excited Kris made the top two, and we grew to love Adam and his family. It really did not matter. The finale was great. Leading up to it, I was so nervous each week during the result shows. I was sick to my stomach. But during the finale, I wasn't nervous. I felt such at peace about it.
ml: What was going through your mind when they announced Kris as the winner?
Kim: I am not really sure. We were so excited. I was so excited for him and Katy. We were jumping around like crazy people, hugging and crying. I had to actually watch the finale over on TV to see Kris's reaction, because I had no idea what his reaction was. It's been a very exciting and long several months, and to come out like this is validation of the type of musician Kris is.
ml: At what age did you know there was something special or unique about your son? When did you discover his talent?
Kim: Even at an early age, Kris had a beautiful tone to his voice. My husband and other son sing as well. But knowing there was something extraordinary about his talent -- it came after he went to Spain on a mission trip after his second semester of college. When Kris came home, he wasn't well and he was in bed. He seemed to acquire a gift for writing music. We heard the songs, the messages in his music, and we realized he wasn't just some kid who could sing -- he truly has a gift.
ml: When he first told you he wanted to audition for American Idol, what was your reaction?
Kim: It was never Kris's idea. We actually said he needed to do this. We wanted him to do it. Our younger son, Daniel, wanted him to do it. Daniel said, "We're going on a roadtrip." They looked at their schedules and looked at the American Idol audition schedule. The Louisville audition was the only one that could work with their schedule. I remember they took off last-minute. They waited until after church, because Kris had to sing that night, and then they drove all night long and waited on line for 13 hours. When he left, he had no voice. Things worked out for him. His brother is truly the one responsible for Kris auditioning.
ml: When Kris first auditioned, did you ever think he'd make it this far?
Kim: I'll tell you what I think, but this is coming from me and not from Kris. I think Kris's thought process was that amazing "American Idol" contestants still made it big, even if they didn't win like Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson. He thought, "If I could just get exposure." We never focused on him winning. We wanted him to get to a point where someone would just notice him and then everything would be great. As he got further into it, we looked for the win. He's a good-looking kid, he's wholesome, with no skeletons in his closet. This is a good arena for him because he's a positive influence on young kids. He's an inspiration for anyone.
ml: As a mother, how has your life changed? And how has your son Kris's life changed?
Kim: It's been quite a whirlwind for several weeks, flying back and forth to Los Angeles. I tried staying home for a few weeks and watched it on TV, but it didn't work for me. I was sitting home and bursting in my living room. My husband and I both work for a living, and now everyone wants to talk to us. People want to talk to us ... it's odd and different. I am sure things will settle down and get back to normal soon, now that the competition is over. I have a lot of friends who laugh at me when I say that, but I do think things will get back to normal soon.
For Kris, his life has changed. He's more comfortable than he was before about speaking in front of crowds. He's fine once he's got a microphone in his hand and when he's singing on stage, but he never felt comfortable talking or being conversational. He's more self-assured.
I don't agree with Simon's statements throughout the season about Kris's confidence. He kept saying he worried about Kris's confidence level. Maybe they perceive his humbleness as a lack of confidence, but it's truly not.
ml: Have you spent time with the other "Idol" moms? Was there ever a sense of competition or rivalry?
Kim: It has been the most amazing experience in that respect. No, if there was, I was never aware of it. There were a few moms I got really close to. Allison's mom is precious and I spent some time with her family. Last night, I spent Leila Lambert's birthday with her at her birthday party. We will have a friendship forever because we watched our kids go through the same thing. I am very aware of mom rivalry and I have seen it because my other son did competitive cheerleading and it's like pageant moms gone wild! It's sad because it doesn't help our kids out at all. With this, maybe because our kids are older and we're not talking about 12-year-olds, it was easy and we all felt the same. I couldn't have been happier with the experience I had with all the "Idol" moms. Leila and I have lots of things in common. We both have two boys, one was in "Idol" and the other has a whole different personality, and we spent the same amount of hours in labor. If the competition ended Wednesday after Kris and Adam sang, "We Are the Champions," I would have been good. They are both winners.
ml: What advice would you give to moms whose children want to audition for AI or who have a gift and aspire to be famous?
Kim: Support your kids and their dreams no matter what, and do it with a great amount of grace and love so they understand that no matter what the outcome, it doesn't define them. You can't put everything into one instance. During an initial interview, someone asked me, "How would you feel if he doesn't get a golden ticket to Hollywood?" It should never be, "If I don't get the golden ticket" then it's all over. They have to be comfortable in their own skin, and they will be great no matter what.
Dying to get up close and personal with Kris? You can catch him -- in concert! Tickets for the "American Idols Live!" Tour are on sale now. This season's American Idol top 10 contestants Adam Lambert, Allison Iraheta, Anoop Desai, Danny Gokey, Kris Allen, Lil Rounds, Matt Giraud, Megan Joy, Michael Sarver, and Scott MacIntyre will launch their tour in Portland, OR, on July 5th, 2009. Click here for all the details.