American Idol Winner Noah Thompson on Life After Idol and Making Rihanna's 'Stay' His Own

On May 22, country singer-songwriter Noah Thompson was crowned the latest winner of American Idol, and it's clear the star has even bigger things on the horizon.

One of Noah's defining moments on the show was his performance of Rihanna's "Stay" during the showstopper round, molding the beloved R&B classic with his powerful vocals and a unique country approach to create something entirely new, and cementing him even further as one of the show's top contenders. Now, two months after his win, the track is his first single post-Idol, and it's still just as impactful. We got the chance to chat with Noah about what the song means to him, life after American Idol and what's next, and here's what he shared with us.

SH: What drew you to Rihanna's "Stay" as a song to perform on American Idol? Why did it feel right to put your own spin on a more R&B-oriented track, rather than sticking to tried-and-true country classics?

Noah Thompson: Actually, someone on Idol suggested that I should sing "Stay" because I have a little bit of an R&B tone to my voice. After thinking about the song and really listening to the lyrics, I decided it would sound great as a country song.


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SH: How do you infuse your own Noah Thompson flavor into existing tracks to create something fresh and new? What does that process look like, and are there any things you're mindful of when you're recreating these songs?

NT: When I'm listening to a song, thinking about whether it's a song I want to sing, I make sure it feels authentic to me that it's something I would say or something I relate to. I also think about whether the melodies feel like melodies I want to sing. Whenever I am in the studio writing, I try to be a good communicator with the other writers in the session and be completely open about what I want to say, how I want to sound and how I would sing something.


SH: Why did it feel right for this cover to be your first release post-Idol?

NT: "Stay" was a turning point for me on the show, and I loved the idea of putting a country version of the song out into the world.


Also read about: Everything You Need to Know About Singer-Songwriter and American Idol Semifinalist Fritz Hager


SH: Is there one lyric from "Stay" that speaks to you most?

NT: There is not a particular lyric that speaks to me, but it's the overall feel of the song I love. I think it's cool that sometimes it doesn't matter what is actually being said in the song but rather how the song moves you and takes you to another place. I love songs that tell stories, and this song tells a story of longing and heartache.


SH:  How has your life changed since winning American Idol? What's next?

NT: My world has completely turned upside down. I am busier than ever but very grateful. I am trying to provide a better life for my son, Walker, and show him that chasing your dream is possible. I have been going to Nashville a lot recently and been in sessions working on new music. I'm preparing my live show and getting my band together, so I'll be ready for my upcoming shows. It's all completely different from the life I lived previously.


Also read about: American Idol Winner Chayce Beckham Breaks Down Every Song on His Doin' It Right EP


SH: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

NT: Thank you to all of the fans and listeners out there who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to listen to my music! I truly appreciate you all.


Can't get enough of Noah? Click HERE to find out everything we discovered about him as our Man Crush Monday.