Now comes the real challenge for American Idol runner-up Diana DeGarmo: making it as a pop star. Only 17, this season’s No. 2 (she lost to Fantasia Barrino) already has a single, “Dreams,” a summer tour with the Idol crew and the perfect date to sing the national anthem – July 4 – for her home state baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. PEOPLE recently caught up with DeGarmo before her guest spot during the Oxygen network’s Custom Concert with LeAnn Rimes, and got the dish on her plans for a funky, Prince-filled summer.
Because you’re just 17, you normally couldn’t attend a club show like this. What’s it like for you to be here?
It’s kinda cool. I wouldn’t actually get to come in here. I’m just in and out real fast.
Any worries about performing in front of a jaded New York crowd?
No, I think New Yorkers are really cool, so I’m excited. This will be my first time performing in New York. This is a first for a lot of things: performing with LeAnn, first time coming back to country (music). I sang country to begin with and I used to get compared to LeAnn a lot.
So what will you perform?
I get to sing “Crazy,” which is the first song I ever sang. So it will be fun.
Are you ready to go on tour?
I’m really excited about the tour because we’re doing (a) funk-soul classic kind of a tour. We’re going to do a tribute to Prince, it’s going to be great.
And how do you plan to honor His Majesty?
I’m not sure what everyone else is doing, but I’m going to be singing “Diamonds and Pearls.” I listened to him growing up (and) my favorite songs of his are “Purple Rain” and “Little Red Corvette.” My mom had a red Corvette, and I’d get in the car and I’d start singing to my mom. It was funny, and my mom was like, “You shouldn’t be singing that song.”
What about your wardrobe? Will it be different than it was on Idol?
I’ve heard (the clothes) are going to be more showy. It won’t be like, “You can’t wear this on TV, you can’t wear that on TV.” You can wear zigzags, you can wear stripes. ? It will be something different, something more my style and flattering.
What is your style?
Young, funky, chic, if that makes sense. But nothing too tight or too short.
Not Janet Jackson-style?
No, I think I’ll keep the leather stuff away.
What do you think of the new Tamyra Gray album?
From what I’ve heard, if the rest of the album is like that, I bet it is amazing. She is a really great artist, not only as a singer but as a musician and writer.
Who’s your favorite Idol singer – other than yourself?
It’s so hard to say, everyone is so different. I love John Stevens because he’s so different, I love George (Huff) because he has such a great voice, and Jennifer (Hudson) has an amazing voice. She could do every soundtrack that Disney comes out with because she fits it perfectly.
How do you plan on keeping your voice in shape while touring? Any secret throat remedies?
There’s drinking hot teas – any kind of hot liquid –and there’s these things we call crazy little oilies, which are these little lozenges. … You do vocal exercises 30 minutes to an hour before the performance to make sure everything is warmed up. It’s like a muscle – you have to stretch it before you start working it.
What’s your favorite tea?
Cinnamon apple. It’s real good.