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'Idol' hopeful enjoying ride, misses home

LAWRENCEVILLE - Don't let the glitz and glamour of Kinnik Sky's "American Idol" performances fool you - the Duluth resident still has Georgia on her mind.

"I miss Georgia, absolutely," Sky said during a phone interview from Hollywood this week. "I miss the hospitality more than anything."

The 28-year-old, who has lived in the Atlanta area for nearly nine years, is one of eight women left in this year's competition of "American Idol." The experience so far, she said, has been amazing.

"I wake up every day and really cannot believe that I'm here. I'm so, so, so, so thankful to have this opportunity," she said. "This is the ultimate of the ultimate, to have the opportunity to get in front of millions of people every week. You almost become a household name overnight."

On Tuesday night, Sky performed Alicia Keys' "If I Ain't Got You." One of the judges, Randy Jackson, said he loved the song choice, but that she stayed musically sharp and didn't nail it. Paula Abdul agreed with Jackson, saying she was off-pitch and Simon Cowell said Sky should just pack her bags now because by the middle of the song she was "all over the place." When the show airs again Thursday, Sky will see whether she should, indeed, pack her bags or if she avoided elimination.

Sky has been singing and acting since she was a child, and she's made a name for herself locally as an actress in various productions. While she's always hoped for the "big break" that would give her recognition, "American Idol" was beyond her wildest dreams.

"I couldn't have dreamed this up any better than it actually happened," she said. "This is more than I ever could have imagined or even prayed for."

Amid rehearsals, interviews and TV time, Sky still manages to eke out a little time for herself. On Sunday, she headed to church with fellow "Idol" hopefuls Kellie Pickler and Mandisa.

"We just kept hugging each other throughout the service, just (saying), 'We're so glad we had this time,' and 'We're so glad we got to do this together.' We had an awesome day," she said.

Sky says the hugging and the camaraderie is no joke - she's developed close bonds with the other contestants.

"We've loved each other from day one, and we've had the opportunity to really get to know one another and spend time with each other, and even when we have our off time, we're still together," she said.

One of the hardest moments for Sky so far was watching Heather Cox, her roommate, be eliminated during the second round of the semifinals. Sky said she walked Cox from the room to the lobby, then outside. "I walked her to the car and I did not want to let her go," she said. "I miss her so much."

Sky herself has been at the brink of being eliminated - last week, after performing Gretchen Wilson's "Here for the Party," she found herself in the bottom three among the female performers.

What was going through her mind? "'God, I trust you,'" she said.

Faith is important for Sky, who is a member of New Mercies Christian Church in Lilburn. She's relied on her beliefs during the toughest moments of the competition, she said.

"Even during times when it looks like I'm in the hot seat," she said. "People are like, 'How are you able to stay so cool?' Because the only thing I want in my life is for God's will to be done, and I totally and completely trust him with that."

There have been plenty of exhilarating moments to balance the nail-biting ones. Sky was shocked by the paparazzi on hand during a red carpet event for the "Idol" hopefuls.

"I asked the driver, I said, 'Did y'all pay actors to pretend to care this much?'" she said. "It's just unbelievable. You just don't think it could be really true."