They're visiting 42 cities in just 68 days. But touring as a performer with American Idols Live isn't all work and no play. Speaking with TV Guide during her Nashville, Tennessee, homecoming, Melinda Doolittle spoke of massages on demand, an abundance of toaster pastries and her hankering for some 24.
TV Guide: How's the tour going?
Melinda Doolittle: It is so much fun! We're having a blast.
TV Guide: Is it everything you hoped it would be?
Melinda: It is, and a lot more. I thought that maybe I knew what to expect because I had toured before, but it's like night and day for me. They pay such attention to detail.
TV Guide: What kind of details do they pay attention to?
Melinda: They take good care of us. They make sure that we're taken care of as far as food goes, of course. There's even a massage therapist out here!
TV Guide: No way. You have to tell me about that.
Melinda: Oh! It's like heaven on earth. They have one in every city. They lay you down on a table and they're like, "What area hurts?"
TV Guide: Wow.
Melinda: I know! I'm like, "This is great because I'm almost 30." Depending on what kind of time we have and what the day looks like, we may have 15 minutes or something like that, but it's totally worth it. But I've only gotten one and a half so far.
TV Guide: What's a "half" of a massage?
Melinda: Well, I had to run in and then I ended up having to go somewhere really quickly so we didn't really get started. I ended up having to go do some interviews, but it was totally fine because I at least got a good three minutes in. It was very good.
TV Guide: Are you getting any other fun perks on the tour? Green M&Ms or anything crazy on your bus?
Melinda: I don't think anything quite that specific, but if we want something like hot tea, they make sure that's available. We're kind of a low-maintenance group so we're just like, "Tea's good. Got any juice? We're good!"
TV Guide: I saw everyone drinking Jamba Juice at rehearsals. Are you still drinking that?
Melinda: Oh, during rehearsal times they went to Starbucks and Jamba Juice to start our day. We don't have that on tour, but we have all of the Pop-Tarts we can eat! [Pop-Tarts is a tour sponsor.]
TV Guide: That sounds good. Is that your favorite thing?
Melinda: It's maybe not my favorite, but some people love it.
TV Guide: Like who?
Melinda: Jordin loves Pop-Tarts, so she's kind of schooling me on that whole thing. I just got to taste the brown sugar [variety] and I'm loving that. We have an unlimited supply in case you want some.
TV Guide: Cool. When you're in L.A., I'll have to swing by for a Pop-Tart.
Melinda: There you go.
TV Guide: Are there any favorite foods among the singers?
Melinda: I love apple juice, that's my favorite thing. I can kind of OD on apple juice! I know that one of the girls loves salami, so sometimes there's a salami craving.
TV Guide: Seriously? I have to know who that is.
Melinda: I'm not telling you who it is. [Laughs] We have some interesting cravings every once in a while, just because we're chicks. The guys are pretty low-maintenance as far as that goes. "Is there food?" That's the main deal for the guys.
TV Guide: Do you have any pre- or post-show rituals?
Melinda: There are people who kind of wait around over by where our buses normally are, so after a show, we try to run out and say hi and take pictures and hug people and sign things if they want us to. That has been the most fun. We kind of hang out by the buses afterwards, and maybe even throw a football around. I learned how to throw a football last night. I'm very excited about that.
TV Guide: Who taught you?
Melinda: One of the [costumed] Pop-Tarts. [Laughs]
TV Guide: Hold on. Who dresses up like a Pop-Tart and why?
Melinda: There's a whole Pop-Tarts crew out here. I don't know which one this guy was. He might have been "strawberry flavored." But he taught me how to throw a football, so I was very excited.
TV Guide: Do you ever just sit there and think, "Is this really happening?"
Melinda: All the time! [In Nashville] my two best friends and I sat and talked and we were like, "What in the world has happened this year?" Last year at this time, we were just chilling, going to the movies, and now we're in a restaurant and people are coming up to the table!
TV Guide: So I'm guessing a lot of your friends and family will be coming to the show?
Melinda: I hope so. I know my mommy's coming out and, of course, my best friends and their husbands. And I have a couple more friends coming and people I've sung with. I'm just really excited about being home.
TV Guide: Are you doing anything special for the Nashville show, since it's your hometown?
Melinda: The cool thing about this show is it requires us to give 150 percent every night, so there's not really any extra that you give on a certain night. That creates a little less pressure when you get home.
TV Guide: Any funny fan stories? Has anything crazy happened yet?
Melinda: Well, last night I pointed to a guy in the audience because he had been so encouraging the whole night to me, screaming, "Melinda, you're doing a great job!" So, at the end of one of the songs, I pointed at him and his hands started shaking and then I didn't see him anymore. I don't know if he just fell. I'm not even sure what happened but I was like, "Oh no! I just hurt somebody." I just wanted to show him that I noticed, but then he just disappeared. I hope that he's OK.
TV Guide: Maybe if we print that, he'll read it and be excited. We can include a headline like "Melinda Causes Fan to Collapse."
Melinda: [Laughs] I hope not! He'd be embarrassed.
TV Guide: I'm totally kidding. Have you had a chance to decorate your bus bunk yet?
Melinda: I'm working on that right now. I have my own sheets and my own blanket and everything and my little stuffed animal that the Backups gave me. They're just the greatest support group ever.
TV Guide: Who are the Backups?
Melinda: It's a fan group. They call themselves Melinda's Backups, I guess because I was a backup singer. They are precious! So I have that in there and then, when I went to Africa with the first lady a couple of weeks ago, I met the Secret Service, and they gave me patches and pins and badges, everything you can think of.
TV Guide: You could be the next Jack Bauer after the tour ends.
Melinda: That is totally my goal. 24 is my favorite show.
TV Guide: You should ask Fox to send you some DVDs.
Melinda: I know! Fox kept me up to speed during the [American Idol season], but I'm missing 12 to 6 am. If I could just see that, I'd be a happy camper. I've kind of put a word in, so hopefully I'll get hooked up!
Read our previous American Idols Live Q&A with Jordin Sparks.
Get weekly updates on the American Idols Live tour throughout the summer in TV Guide (try four risk-free issues now) and on TVGuide.com. Plus, TV Guide Network's Idol Chat hosts Justin Guarini and Kimberly Caldwell will appear in person at the concerts on July 23 in Los Angeles, August 9 in St. Louis and August 28 in East Rutherford.
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