When Crystal Bowersox belted out a moving rendition of Patty Griffin‘s “Up to the Mountain” on the first night of the American Idol finale, the singer drew from her own raw emotions after what she says was a “hard morning.”
“My boyfriend Tony, he went home. He wasn’t cool with the lifestyle,” the Elliston, Ohio, native revealed Thursday morning on Ryan Seacrest‘s 102.7 KIIS-FM radio show.
The decision to break up just hours before the final performance night, Bowersox says, was completely mutual.
“We’re both logical, grown adults,” she said. “He’s a small town guy and it’s fine. But I’m a small town girl but I want this. I want this more than anything – this career, this lifestyle. I didn’t think he was up for it. He didn’t think he was up for it.”
Her boyfriend, Tony Kusian, 26, spoke with PEOPLE during Crystal’s hometown visit about life in Los Angeles, where Idol is produced. “It’s kind of tough at times but you get used to it and we’re all happy. Some days are more fun than others,” he said. “But it’s been hard to find friends out there. I want to keep it low key. I don’t need the attention.”
Though she’s “a little sad” they parted ways on one of the most pivotal moments of her Idol journey, Bowersox has no hard feelings. “He’s been amazing,” she says. “He stuck it out through this whole thing.”
Already a veteran in the business, judge Kara DioGuardi, who appeared with Bowersox on the radio show, offered some advice to the runner-up. “You have to do your music,” she her. “It’s not a choice for you. It’s what makes you whole. If somebody can’t hang with that – I’m sure he’s a lovely guy but right now this is your dream.”
And while she’s disappointed about the breakup, the even-keeled singer says she isn’t mad. In fact, she says, “We’re going to be friends for a long time.” –Eunice Oh