By People Staff
February 19, 2010 12:00 AM

For someone eliminated a third time from American Idol‘s Hollywood rounds, Angela Martin is surprisingly upbeat and not bitter. “I’m okay, I’m okay,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’ve had a great experience.”

As fans of the show reacted with shock at Martin’s dismissal, the 28-year-old Chicago singer says the judges let her down easy. “The way it was edited was great for me,” Martin says. “I was actually the last person in the room. I was the 25th person. After the 12th girl came out, I already knew I didn’t make it, so I prepared myself for hearing the news directly from the judges.”

The tears she shed before getting to the stage came “as I was walking towards them,” Martin explains, “because they showed a picture of my daughter on the screen in back and I lost it. I felt like I was a failure because I remember talking to my daughter, saying, ‘Mommy is going on American Idol.’ But the judges told me to keep going and I sound good. I see the love of Ellen and the judges and the other parents who were there on Idol. I met some incredible, talented .”

Her positive attitude “comes from God,” Martin says. “I pray a lot. The worst that happened to me was losing my father the way I did. It was the worst day of my life and if I can get through that, I can get through anything. I have to hold myself up for me and my little girl.”

Her daughter, 10-year-old Jessica, has been receiving care from the Shriner’s Childrens Hospital in Chicago for her Rett Syndrome. “We got her the right medications now,” Martin says, “and so the seizures seemed to have stopped. She has had no seizures in two weeks.”

In other developments, there has been some progress in efforts to find Martin’s mother, Viola Brown Martin, who had been missing since Dec. 26. “We just got an inside tip,” Martin says. “America’s Most Wanted called the detectives on the case. The tip said she had been spotted in Chicago at 55th and Halsted, so we went out there and a man at a liquor store said, ‘You just missed your mom three hours ago.’ She has been seen begging for change and she does not seem aware. We are very concerned because she has relapsed after a long time of being sober. But we are hopeful we can find her.”

Read more on the disappearance of Viola Brown Martin and find out how to help.

Although Martin cannot audition for American Idol a fourth time because she will be over the age limit for contestants, she wouldn’t mind trying out for Simon Cowell‘s new show.

“Yes, I tell anyone I meet I am going to go on the X Factor,” Martin says. “I am going to audition for anything. I really do hope something happens! I want to sing and perform. I love music.” –Cynthia Wang