Exit Interviews with Jonathan Estes: Lauren Leever


On March 10th, the Season Three Top Nine took the stage one last time before two of the contestants were eliminated.  Lauren Leever sang a beautiful rendition of “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna- her last performance as a contestant. She was one of two contestants to be eliminated off.  I recently spoke with Lauren about her elimination and her overall experience on The Spotlight.


Jonathan: What actions did you take in your preparations for the show? What were your thoughts right before stepping on stage?

Lauren: I guess I would say I prepared by finding people to play instruments for me, and then just practicing as much as I could, so I wouldn’t forget the words. My thoughts right before getting on stage were always, “just don’t forget the first line of the song and you’ll be fine.”

Jonathan: You made it to the top nine. When you started the competition where did you expect to place?

Lauren: I didn’t really have any expectations for placing, I just kind of thought whatever happens…happens.

Jonathan: Was it hard to pick songs for the different themes week to week? What was your thought process for picking your songs?

Lauren: Picking the songs was kind of difficult, and the way I picked my songs was just asking my friends and family what they thought.

Jonathan: Summarize your time in spotlight. Was it what you thought it would be?

Lauren: I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but it was a good experience! I was really out of my comfort zone, but I think it was definitely good for me to try something new! It was kind of stressful for me, but I got to meet some new and very talented people, and I’m ultimately really glad I tried it out!

Lauren Leever is a transfer junior from Warner Robins, Georgia. She is here majoring in biology, and is a part of the swim team. She really enjoys swimming, puppies, and obsessing over Ed Sheeran.

-Jonathan Estes, Spotlight Lighting Director & CAB Crew Member

Exit Interviews with Jonathan Estes: Tim Smith


Last Tuesday was the end of the road for Tim Smith as the top seven were chosen. He sang “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. The judges did not see it the same way as the crowd, who chanted for Tim to be saved. I recently spoke with Tim about  his time in Spotlight.


Jonathan: You played a piano for most of your performances. Do you feel like that’s where you feel most comfortable and did you playing the piano influence your song choices?

Tim: I definitely feel a sense of comfort from behind the piano. I don’t feel like the piano was that big of a factor in determining my song choice because I always had a simple approach to picking a song…  Just playing what I like the most. Of course, you need to have a song that the audience can relate to and enjoy but for me… I just picked songs that were similar to my style.

Jonathan: This was your second year in spotlight. How different was the experience from last year to this year? Are other contestants the reason for a great experience?

Tim: On the contrary…  It was my third! My first year I was so nervous that I forgot a few of the lyrics while performing during duets week. But this year’s competition was completely different from last year’s in so many ways. Last year’s talent was incredible with singers like Brandy and Jordan but honestly I feel that this year’s talent is even deeper than last year’s. I mean just look at the singers still in it…  Sara Jo, Trey Bryant, Shantel Buchner, and every other amazing contestant. The talent is just unreal and I think that’s what makes the experience so unforgettable.

Jonathan: Do you feel like it was maybe harder this year compared to last because people had already heard your voice and knew you?

Tim: It’s a double edge sword in regards to being a repeat contender. It’s a good thing because I knew what the competition would consist of and how I would need to prepare for each show. However, it makes it harder in respect to getting the vote from both family and the audience. The audience is already used to how you sound so it’s hard to blow them away with anything because more than likely…  They’ve already heard it. And then it’s hard getting the vote from your family because they’re burnt out from voting so much last year. Haha.

Tim Smith is a junior. He is majoring in history. He plans on becoming a high school history teacher one day. He has played the piano his whole life, but has only been singing in front of people since his first Spotlight appearance.