‘American Idol’: Meet Tristan McIntosh — An Exclusive Interview

"I really like reading. I knit. I am just a really chill person."


Tristan McIntosh is on track to become the first black country singer to win AMERICAN IDOL.

“Being colored in the country music business isn’t always that easy,” she confides. “It’s not stereotypical. It doesn’t fit the mold. People are always saying, ‘Why don’t you do pop?’”

But Tristan, 15, is determined to stick to her Nashville roots.

“I am thinking in this competition that all of the new country music is about trucks and girls,” she says.

“I don’t want everything to be stereotypical. I want to take it back to old country roots. Like Chris Stapleton.

“I don’t sing ‘only’ country music, but it is definitely the genre I like to do.”

So far, Tristan nailed her audition in Little Rock with a piano-backed arrangement of Mickey Guyton’s “Why Baby Why” and cruised through the first rounds of Hollywood Week with a roof-raising performance of Carrie Underwood’s “Something In The Water.”

Tristan Macintosh on 'American Idol'

And Wednesday night’s cover of the Rascal Flatts classic “What Hurts The Most?” looked certain to land her a spot in the Top 24.

Tristan spoke to TheTVPage.com during a recent trip to Los Angeles and shared more about her life, her music and she would never follow her mom into the military,

How is your IDOL experience going?
This is really cool. I have never done anything like this before. I have never been out of the south before.

What is life like for you at age 15 in Nashville?
Mostly, I just do a lot of gigs. I practice a lot and I go to school. Going to school is difficult now. I miss a lot of class. But it is fine because my teachers understand. I go to an arts school. Another girl in the competition actually goes to the same school as me and she is still in.

I heard you go to the same high school as Amelia Eisenhauer, who is also in the competition. Were you guys friends before this?
Kind of. We were in the same physics class. She sat a row away from me. We never knew each other could sing. We go to an arts school, so we probably should have assumed.

So how did you find out?
Before our lines of ten we had to go eat and film stuff. Everybody was in one room. Two people. And I look around and see bright red hair and I think, “I know that hair!” I thought there was no way two people from the same high school can be here at the same time. So I was like “Do you happen to go to Nashville School of the Arts?” And she was like “Yes” and I was like “You are in my physics class.”

You probably wanted to do this for a very long time. Did your parents think you were crazy?
When I was little they thought I was crazy. They were like “You are nine. You are not even old enough.” I was in my house when I was 8 years-old. We lived in Georgia then. And I was just walking around the house singing and my mom was like “That’s actually pretty good.” So she took me to a vocal studio and said “tell me if my daughter has talent or not” and they were like, “your daughter is really good.”

What instruments do you play?
Piano and guitar are my favorites. But I play trumpet and mandolin a little bit.

What else are you into besides music?
I really like reading. I knit. I am just a really chill person. I like lizards. I used to have a pet lizard. But good things come to end. Her name was Gecca, which was real original because she was a gecko. We don’t have her anymore. It has just been so busy that we don’t have any pets anymore. I just really love lizards. I will catch them outside on the fences.

So you caught your pet lizard?
No. Not that one. That lizard was brought from Iraq. My mom is in the military so somehow she ended up getting it. She got it from a friend, who owned a pet store, I believe. But the lizard species is native to Iraq. She was a leopard gecko.

Is your mom still active in the military?
I think she is going to retire sometime soon. She has done two tours. She went to Iraq when I was about 3 years old for a year and this year she went to Kuwait for 6 months in April 2015.

That must have been hard for you…
It was kind of hard for me. She is my mom. I basically tell my mom everything. She does a lot for me because she is the military person and she gets things done. So it was weird not having her around.

Were you scared?
I always a hope that nothing is going to happen over there. But you never know. You can’t be there to do anything about it. While she was there, they had a bombing in a mosque and they weren’t allowed to go into the place anymore and they had to stay there. So it was pretty scary.

Have you thought of following in her footsteps?
No. I cry too easily. [laughs] I am usually very calm. But I feel like if someone was constantly yelling at me I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

AMERICAN IDOL airs Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox.

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly