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Several past American Idol winners were on hand at the press event for American Idol XV:-

  • Season 2 winner, Ruben Studdard
  • Season 6 winner, Jordin Sparks
  • Season 7 winner, David Cook
  • Season 8 winner, Kris Allen
  • Season 10 winner, Scotty McCreery
  • Season 14 winner, Nick Fradiani

They were asked what the one takeaway that the contestants on the current season should be looking at when they go into the real world?

David Cook: I think Idol is probably the closest thing you’re ever going to find to a fame boot camp.

I think the lessons that I took away from it are lessons that I still use today, eight years later. So I think, as you go through the process, it’s important to step back and realize where you are and figure out how to navigate, more than anything.

I’m, eight years, still figuring out how to navigate, to some degree.

American Idol - Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks
American Idol – Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks ©2007 Fox

Jordin Sparks: There’s no blueprint really. I remember after the finale, I ran into the arms of my brother, my mom, and his best friend. I was crying, and I remember feeling a tap on my shoulder, and it was like, ‘Okay.

Press in five minutes.’ And it was like, ‘Okay. Here you go.’ There’s no blueprint. You kind of just go.

We learn a lot on the show, how to compose ourselves and talk in front of people, how to convey emotions through our songs and reach people through the TV.

But once you get out there, everything is so different, and you kind of just have to go, “Okay. Here I go.” You just dive in headfirst.

American Idol - Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery
American Idol – Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday. May 25th 2011 in Los Angeles ©2011 Fox, photo by Michael Becker

Scotty McCreery: Yeah. Surround yourself with good people. I mean five months prior I was selling groceries.

I didn’t know anything about the music business. So find people you trust, and go out there and try your best.

American Idol - Adam Lambert, Season 8 winner Kris Allen and Ryan Seacrest
American Idol – Adam Lambert, Season 8 winner Kris Allen and Ryan Seacrest ©2009 Fox

Kris Allen: I think realizing that, just because you’re on TV and a lot of people know your face, that nothing is given to you.

You really have to work for it. There’s a lot that you have to work for in the music business.

American Idol - Season 14 winner Nick Fradiani
American Idol – Season XIV winner Nick Fradiani performs at the finale on Wednesday, May 13th 2015 ©2015 Fox, photo by Frank Micelotta

Nick Fradiani: Yeah, I agree with Kris. There’s definitely no guarantees. After the show is over, it all comes down to the work you want to put into it.

What I was noticing with all the past Idols is it really comes down to the music. After the show, you’ve got to put out really good material.

I think that’s been the biggest focus for all of us, is to try to come out with the best material that we can.

American Idol - Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard
American Idol – Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard performs at the finale on Wednesday, May 21st 2003 ©2003 Fox, photo by Ray Mickshaw

Ruben Studdard: I think everybody that comes on the show has a dream of just doing what they love every day. And that has been, for me, the most fulfilling thing in my life.

There’s a description in the Bible that says faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things you couldn’t see.

And God actually gave me those tangible things that I could put my hands on and say, ‘I dreamed about that.

This happened. I wanted to sing. I’m singing.’