Idoloonies: Naima Adedapo on Reggae Vibes, 'Umbrella,' and X Factor's $5 Million Prize

American Idol‘s Naima Adedapo wants the world to know she’s not just “some girl doing reggae music because I think it’s cool.” The Season 10 co-10th-place finisher sat down for her Idoloonies interview and explained how she approached her rendition of “Summertime” knowing it had already been an Idol moment for Season 3 champ Fantasia Barrino, why she used a Jamaican Patois accent for her rendition of “I’m Still Standing,” and whether or not she should’ve skipped Idol and auditioned for Simon Cowell’s The X Factor. Press play below for all that and more, and to get alerts on all my Idol news, interviews, and reviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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86 Comments
  1. ReMMeZ says:

    Kudo’s for Naima – she just comes off like a real likeable person. Wishing the best for her.

    • Rhama says:

      Agree, but she still needs to improve her vocal skills.

      • cheryl says:

        Agree too, but her vocal skills are just fine. In fact, better than fine. I loved to listen to her sing. I knew it was going to be unique no matter what she sang.

        • Rhama says:

          There’s always room for improvement. I agree that she has great musicality, beautiful tone and connection with the lyrics. Yet, her breath and pitch control must be improved.

        • Joseph says:

          Okay just listened again to Naima and her “I’m Still Standing” performance , and agree the vocal was good but it did not feel genuine.
          The issue that I had with most of the performances this year is a lack of the singers being vulnerable and instead hiding behind gimicks.
          With Naima she at times had an okay vocal but always there was something else happening that I think she was using so we would not notice her limited vocal ability.

          • MedicIdol says:

            She is uninteresting and annoying and her buckteeth make me want to fix them with a punch. Other than that what’s not to like other than her husband is a misogynistic reverse racist and she had pit hair when she auditioned?

          • Blair says:

            @Medicidol: What???? …that’s all.

      • Trudy says:

        She’s got a great vocal tone to start with. I honestly think her vocal skills were tarnished on the live shows due to the ear monitor she was told to wear, which was supposed to help, but probably just made it worse, and the fact that it’s harder to control pitch when you’re more out of breath from moving around and dancing. But, that could be relatively easy for her to improve on. I really like Naima and wish her well!

        • Lily says:

          Great interview! I agree that Naima’s vocals were hurt by the energetic dance moves. This happened to James too at times when he moved around too much. I appreciated though that Naima and James were trying to give us not just a song but a performance – that extra effort made the show much more interesting.

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Randy is an idiot. But Naima should have stayed on that jazz path, because it helped Haley. When she kept doing reggae after reggae and dancing, then I think the audience was left behind. She had to play the audience until she got to top 10 and then do her own thing.
      She was the most exciting and current of all of them, and she can sing….but she didn’t strategize well. Naima: Jamaicans are not voting….Americans are voting….middle America is voting.
      I hope she is hired by Beyonce as a dancer.

      • Cheryl says:

        I so agree that Randy is an idiot. How is he even relevant? He thinks he knows so much about music and yet…would prefer a judge like Jimmy Iovine.

    • Suncatcher says:

      CATCH IDOLS PIA TOSCANO AND KRIS ALLEN ON PBS 8:00 PM EDT TONIGHT ON THE ANNUAL NATIONAL MEMORIAL DAY CONCERT IN WASHINGTON DC!!! Pia will sing the National Anthem and Kris sings “God Bless the USA.” Co-Hosts are Gary Sinise (CSI: NY) and Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds). Other performers in a great line up this year are: AJ Cook (Criminal Minds), BB King and more! Support PBS and see a wonderful show! http://www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert/concert/performers.html

  2. ladyhelix says:

    DELIGHTFUL!! Thank you so much Michael!

    • Sweet Jane says:

      Michael is so sweet, and he makes Idol interesting – those guys should pay him a big check! Loved to see Naima here, and loved to hear that Carly was at Cirque du Soleil the day Haley was gone, I mean, how comforting was that?

  3. Eli says:

    BOOM FIYAH. I love this girl, so robbed and underrated. Is Thia coming up?

  4. blingedup.susan says:

    I just love her.

  5. Leslie says:

    Oh, I’ve missed Naima! What a talented, wonderful person. She gives a vibe of joyfulness and peace, and I loved everything she did during her Idol run. Another talented female shot down way too early!

  6. Cat says:

    I hope Naima is able to get her career off the ground. Idol got really predictable for a while after she left!

  7. Davey says:

    Since Michael didn’t seem to like Thia at all, I won’t be surprised if he never interviews her, just like he’s never interviewed Casey James.

    • Emma says:

      They did interview Casey, but the file was corrupted so they’ve scheduled a redo. Michael has said this several times both here and on Twitter.

      • Katharine says:

        I think it was Casey James that Davey was referring to as not having been interviewed for Idolatry last season, not Casey Abrams, who’s file got corrupted.

      • Trudy says:

        they’re talking about Casey James from last season, not Casey Abrams from this season :P

  8. M says:

    I love Naima’s energy, too bad they never really gave her enough credit for her creativity. I really hope this works out for her.
    ___

    Is Thia’s interview coming up soon as well? :D

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Did you read that Steven Tyler didn’t feel that Naima should have been voted off as early?

  9. T says:

    REALLY like her. Loved her insight into African dance and Jamaican culture, as well as her sweet personality. Great interview, Michael. Wish only great things for her.

  10. GeorgiaPat says:

    At that stage of the competition, I didn’t feel that I really knew any of the contestants. I like and have much more appreciation for Naima after this interview. It’s impossible not to give credit to a talented artist who is willing to take such risks and create her own path. Bravo!

  11. Jane says:

    I hope they go back to forming the top 10 like they did a few years back. The girls sing and the guys sing and then the lowest vote getters get sent home until there is 10 left. That way, we get to know the singers better and hopefully the best will emerge for the top 10. I think if they had done it this way this year, the best would have made it like Kendra.

  12. Debbie M says:

    She seems like a very genuine person. Doesn’t put on airs (are you reading this Jacob Lusk?). I liked her from day one and thought she was eliminated too soon. I hope she does well for herself.

  13. CJ says:

    quite off topic. but her Africa-shaped earrings are so cute! :)

  14. EvaneSam says:

    I hope as well that those 5 Mil. $’s will go to her. She sure deserves it. Great and lovely person.

  15. alacrity says:

    just loved naima on idol. would have loved a naima pia haley top 3 (in any order). i’m 1 of 10 ppl on earth who thought the jamaican accent in i’m still standing was perfect for the song (not wtf at all). hope good things come for this girl.

    • EvaneSam says:

      Make it 11 ppl. When she did that little rap in the middle of Umbrella I was disappointed …. that she stoped after a while and started singing again :P

      Loved each song she did.

    • takakupo says:

      Hello number 1 and 11, I’m number 2 :D

    • b-line says:

      hey me too, i defended her here on this forum and in many places after everybody was off because of her jamaican accent. i m a reggae records collector, and whereever you go, people who happens to listen rastafarian reggae at least understands patois and try to speak it. Rastafarian reggae is jamaican and they did the best of it. Roots and culture is very important for this music’s lyrics and the authentic way is what Naima did. Big up sista!!! but of course i agree that she had a bad strategy cause it’s very niche, reggae listeners never watch AI except me and i cannot vote cause i m turkish and livin in Istanbul:))

    • Maj says:

      Make it what…12, 13 or 14? :o)

      I actually think people should be allowed to sing in whatever accent they please. Elton John himself doesn’t ever sound particularly English when he sings (unlike say Bowie who definitely keeps more of his speaking accent in his singing). Elton kinda sounds southern US to me. No wonder as a kid I used to think he was American! :o)
      But I digress. I loved Naima – she was actually my original fave. She went home too soon. Oh what joy would it have been if she and Haley got to the top 5 or even top 3…7th heaven! :o)
      I totally missed her on the show – even tho Haley improved significantly over the course of the competition & James helped to keep things a bit fun and interesting, Naima was still the best performer in this year’s Idol.

      • Maj says:

        Shoot. I obviously have to write my smileys like this :) on this site! :)
        I wanted to add: I LOVED Naima’s version of I’m Still Standing. I’m a huge Elton fan and I thought it fit the song well (even better than when Kate Bush did a sort-of-reggae version of Rocket Man 20 years ago). She should have got mad props for it, not whatever the judges blabbed her way.

    • Zach says:

      I’ll be #12 then! You’re probably not even seeing this now, but I too was a Naima fan early on! I think the best she ever was was on “For All We Know.” The singoffs by the wild cards were fantastic. They carried a sense of urgency that was lacking from many of the ultimate frontrunners’ safe performances. I still preferred Naima doing the jazzy, old-fashioned R&B ballads. Naima, Pia, and Haley were the only ones I ever voted for. (OK, I admit I threw Lauren some votes to try to upset Scotty, but by that point it was a done deal, and I certainly wasn’t as invested.)

  16. SallyinChicago says:

    Does anybody know?
    After the tour, can the Idols audition for next year’s XFactor? I can definitely see them cycling through different shows like Sing-Off, XF, and Voice.

    • JJ says:

      I doubt Simon would allow. He’s really trying to separate himself from AI.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Well they can do the Voice – Frenchie did. Viki was also supposed to go to Hollywood at Idol but backed out. I’m betting some of the others in the proper age range auditioned as well.

    • takakupo says:

      Yes :] All of these shows have the same rules as Idol. You can audition and expect to make it through on the judge’s whim as long as you’re not under a current contract. It’d be nice to see Naima take on the X-Factor and go far but like another poster said, I doubt Simon would allow it.

  17. Justin says:

    I like her as a person, but this woman is not talented and is probably going nowhere. Second to James, there is nobody I disliked watching more this season. Stand out there and sing a song. She never did, because she can’t. To make up for sounding atrocious she danced around and played with the songs in a very non-creative way. I found her to be very indulgent. I’ll take someone with a voice over a gimmick any day.

    • takakupo says:

      Lets see, stand there and sing a song: Did you miss her wild card rendition of “For All We Know”? I’m sure there’s a million other discrepancies in your likes and dislikes but you’re certainly entitled to your opinion, however wrong it may be. Naima can sing. She proved that in every performance except for two (“Umbrella” and “What’s Love Got to do With it”).

      Also, last time I checked, dancing was not a gimmick. It’s actually an art. Just sayin’.

      • Justin says:

        I don’t think dancing itself is a gimmick, but dancing on American Idol is. It’s not a dancing show, so don’t dance. It would be like if someone sang on So You Think You Can Dance. The only time I ever thought she sounded good was during her audition. She went downhill from there. She has potential. For me, she just didn’t show it.

        • takakupo says:

          Eh, we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I think she incorporated dance into her performance as opposed to just using it to get by. Idol may be a show with a main point to sing but it’s also a search for a superstar. A lot of today’s acts incorporate dance into their mix (unlike Mariah, Celine, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, or Christina Aguilera; but even Whitney threw in dance moves as well as Rhianna, Justin Bieber, Frank Sinatra and a long list of other artists). Dance was never the focal point for Naima but she did do her best to introduce it to the Idol stage and for that I think she at least deserves a bit of appreciation and not this label of gimmick that you’re giving.

  18. Lourdes says:

    So glad Michael finally got to interview Naima. She was one of the more interesting contestants this season who took risks and really showed her own point-of-view as an artist. I think she’s tremendously talented, and am glad that she’s staying positive despite having a relatively short run on the Idol stage. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

  19. Julie says:

    Thanks for the interview Michael. Waiting with baited breath for the rest…

  20. zaza says:

    So happy to see Naima again! She was one of my favorites…so dynamic!
    I hope someone in the industry recognizes her potential and gives her a chance. It would be so awesome to have someone on the music scene who can rap, dance and ACTUALLY sing (without autotune!).

  21. Kelm says:

    The most interesting one this year, with Haley.
    Wish her all the best, she deserves it.

    • Tusk says:

      not trying to feed into the Haley bus, but where are her Tonight Show or Ellen interviews that EVERYONE, it seems, that were elimininated before her has had? Sorry, but I need my Haley fix at least to hear her career progressing but nothing. :(

      • Tom K says:

        Third place has many benefits. But one of the drawbacks is that you don’t have any time to do the talk show circuit. Pretty much, you are eliminated one second – the next second, you have to jump in and rehearse for the finale with the other fallen Idols. (And this year, there was one less day built in because they went to the Tue-Wed schedule for the finale).
        She’s doing Regis & Kelly on Thursday. And perhaps she can find some time to squeeze in other appearances – she was an Ellen favorite, so I am going to imagine that Ellen will reach out to her.

        • Tusk says:

          @Tom K

          Thnx for the update. I have watched AI on and off and have never pulled for someone like Haley. It’s not only because I think she is talented, beautiful and spirtited, but over the last few weeks there seems to be a perception of her that I think is unfair.

          Despite what I feel about her, there seems to be a swelling of people who for no reason I can understand, or that she can control, need to spread this misconception about her. The editing, judges and producer manipulation have resulted in many people feeling that she is ungrateful, aloof and selfish. If people took the time to see more than what the producers show on TV, they would realise that she is far from that.

          All I hope for Haley is she is given the opportunity to express her talent and musicality, and be judged on those basis rather than the spite, jealousy and innuendo that is being spread for reasons I don’t understand. She’s just a young girl with an opportunity to live her dream.

  22. Ghost of Kelly Clarkson says:

    I was so happy to see Naima on the finale — the competition just wasn’t quite as interesting after she was voted off. I love her positive spirit, her energy and her creativity and hope that this Idol experience is just the beginning of great things for her.

  23. ohreli says:

    I dont think singing in a Patois accent “communicates” better to Jamaicans….? That makes almost as much as whatever Jacob said was the reason he said America wasnt ready to look in the mirror…come on Idols, just be willing to admit you made a mistake!

  24. Emma says:

    It comes through, like it came through in Idol, that her Jamaican thing isn’t a shtick but who she is. Unfortunately that isn’t what teens and 40-somethings in the middle America go for. I hope that she’ll find her niche, or dunno, becomes a roots-influenced Rihanna.

  25. Danny says:

    I enjoyed the intereview. She seems like a really great gal & I wish her the best.

    Off the subject a bit here, but are any of the previous years interviews archived somewhere? I just found out about this site a couple of months ago & have really enjoyed it.

  26. Jaime says:

    You promised a Haley interview. :(

    • M says:

      I think Haley’s scheduled to appear in Regis and Kelly this week so hopefully we’ll be seeing her interview soon :D

  27. abbysee says:

    Love this interview with Naima, glad she appeared on Idol instead of waiting for XFactor. This season has a great array of talent, country, jazz, rock, pop, Reggae. I think that is one of the things that kept it interesting and what will make the tour so popular. I think Naima’s Umbrella was one of the best performances this past season, and frankly I like it much better than Rihanna’s! I hope she gets a chance to continue performing, she quite intriguing to me.

  28. Zach says:

    BOOOOOM FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRREEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Laurel says:

    She wasn’t the best on Idol this year but she was very real and likeable.
    I hope she does well and doesn’t have to return to janitoral work.

  30. ladyhelix says:

    It’s going to be fun to see what she does on tour!

    She’ll perform early enough in the show that they probably won’t “hobble” her set much (to avoid making Lauren look sleepy). Haley on the other hand – doesn’t stand a chance.

  31. JVC says:

    Slezak,

    Thank you for this interview. Naima was one of my favs and I was worried she wasn’t going to get one. But seeing this interview reminded of the disappointment i felt when she tied for 10th w/ Thia. And the show wonders why females are getting tossed to the way side? I loved her reggae cover of I’m still standing. We saw it w/ crystal last season, alison in season 8, carly and even syesha at times in season 7, the got 0 credit for changing up a song. Judges,you better start doing it in season 11, are maybe we’ll get a whole new panel that will be serious next season.

  32. Tim says:

    “Umbrella” was my fav performance on Idol since Adam. Really liked the emotion she put behind “For All We Know” as well. She’s far from a note-perfect singer, but I love the creativity and feeling she puts into her work. Hope she does well in the business.

  33. David says:

    I loved Naima! I thought she went way too soon but it’s a problem when you don’t connect with “middle america” and she most certainly didn’t. It is really unfortunate though because she was one of the best and most talented on this year and I think that on the finale that showed. It would be great if she had a future. She was definitely not the generic idol contestant that gets through like those from the last several years!

  34. alien says:

    I love her. She seems so great. I loved seeing her performances. I hope she does well.

  35. econruth says:

    I loved Naima! She’s the only Idol this season who moved me enough to actually pick up the phone and vote. Her change up on Umbrella was so unexpected and fun and I wish we had seen much much more of her!

  36. Kevin C. says:

    I loved watching her and seeing what she would come up with each week, but she was so far off key in so many different performances. If she could have just gotten the singing up to the level of performing, I think she would have gotten farther.

  37. lesfull says:

    Slezak, I love that I can tell from the interviews the contestants you like and didn’t like without you even stating it. It’s TOTALLY clear how much you like Naima in this interview as opposed to say, Jacob Lusk, where you are just asking questions and barely interacting. Here you seemed really excited to talk to her and she came off as so sweet and authentic. Really good interview.

  38. Danielle Notaro says:

    I love the energy Naima brought to Idol.Didn’t mind one bit the Jamaican accent.

  39. takakupo says:

    Can we get a fansite going!? I mean, we all need to be informed of her movement and music career :D She’s brilliant!

  40. dctoronto says:

    I Love her. What a beautiful spirit.

    I think she would have been better appreciated on X Factor. Simon would have “gotten” her.

  41. CK says:

    Great interview. I’m happy to read so many positive comments about Naima. Love her spirit and creativity.

  42. Linda says:

    Love this girl. Can’t wait to hear what she will come up to.

  43. desmond says:

    Keep on keeping on Naima. You are going to be great. I would like the opportunity to collaborate with you some time in the future. You can sing and you can perform. Remain true to what is in your heart.

  44. Liz says:

    Naima was my favorite from the beginning, I waited to see if she made it through Hollywood week and then voted for her alone hoping to keep her another week. I will buy her debut CD and I think she is not only origional but she is stunningly beautiful as well. I look forward to whatever she does next.

  45. Paisley Quinn says:

    GREAT interview, Michael! What an interesting and articulate young woman Naima is. I really missed her after she left. I personally loved her reggae infusion into I’m Still Standing and Umbrella but I guess (judging by our top 2) most Idol viewers didn’t care for someone quite that different. I wish her well and hope she gets the 5 million dollars!

  46. Blair says:

    yep. Great interview, Michael! Naima was a talent that was simply overlooked on the idol stage. …that said, maybe she needn’t remain “idle” for long….perhaps “X Factor” is the way to go… in any event, you go, Naima! Stay true to you!

  47. Truth says:

    Where’s Haley?

  48. JeanRose says:

    Randy is an idiot! I’m so sick of these judges always comparing the singers to previous ones on Idol. So what if Fantasia sang Summertime? I’m no Fanty fan…she did a good job, BUT I liked NAIMIA’S soooo much better!!!! I’ve watched it over and over on youtube,
    just LOVE IT!

    Naima is like Haley and Casey……UNIQUE AND NOT COOKIE-CUTTER singers!!!!!
    My three favs this year….Haley, Casey and Naima….in that order. I can’t wait to see them on tour in July!

    Great interview Michael and Naima!!

  49. Quinton says:

    BOOM FIYA!

  50. InTears! says:

    Why did this make me cry! I might love her. Sorry she left early but happy she was on idol at all. I guess that is my take away from this season. I am not at all interested in the winner and runner up. I would never in a million years buy either of their records and I would change the channel if their music came on HOWEVER this group on idol contained some of the most diverse characters yet. Naima and her Rastafarian influences, Casey and jazz, Haley and her awesomeness, Paul with his Indy cred…..I was really over it and FF’ed through Scotty and Lauren’s final performances but in the end (or “at the end of the day” as Nigel would say) idol did not completely FAIL me because of these performers and their idiosyncrasies!