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Close-Up

Q&A With Gabi

Her audition didn’t make her a star, but it did bring her future into focus

Gabi Carrubba didn’t make it as far as she had hoped on “American Idol” this winter, but her experience on the show taught the North Haven teen a thing or two about herself all the same.

She has discovered she likes writing songs as much as performing them, for one thing, and Carrubba, 17, knows exactly what she’ll do if she auditions again.

“I’m going to take so many more risks than I did before,” Carrubba says. With her high school graduation approaching, and college looming after that, Carrubba isn’t sure exactly what her future holds, but she says that singing and performing will be a big part of it.

“I’m not looking to be a pop star, but I’d love to be recognized for my original music,” she says.

Q: What surprised you most about the show?

A: I think I was expecting it to be more of a competitive environment. I didn’t think that I would make such close friends as I did, but I was completely wrong. Everybody is so open and so loving, even the people who work for “American Idol,” like crew, the judges, Ryan [Seacrest, the host], everybody is just so welcoming. You almost forget that it’s a competition.

Q: You’re graduating from high school this spring. What are your future plans?

A: My future plans definitely include going to college. I really want to get a good education, and hopefully I’ll be in the

city. I got into Marymount Manhattan College, and I’m waiting to hear back from some other schools, but they’re all in the city. I’m probably going to major in musical theater, just because it’s what I grew up doing, it’s what I love to do and what better place to do musical theater than right in New York City where you can go and audition and hopefully be on Broadway?

Q: What kind of stepping-stone do you see “Idol” being?

A: It’s definitely opened a lot of doors for performing, but it’s also helped me personally realize what I want to do for my future. It’s helped me realize what I lacked in my performance, and, like, what are my strengths. Even though I didn’t make it as far as I could have, I still learned so much, and to say I got to perform in front of all these people, it’s an honor. To say that one of my good friends might be the next American Idol is just so cool, you know?

Q: What did you realize was lacking in your performance? What were your strengths?

A: I think my strength would be, I’m very comfortable on the stage. I’ve been dancing since I was 1 year old, so moving around on the stage has never been really an issue for me. But I think my weakness is definitely that I don’t really have that much confidence in my performances. When I’m on stage, I’m in another world. I don’t even think about what I’m doing, I just do it. Then after, I always question myself and I think it showed on “American Idol.” I worried a lot. I need to stop worrying and just feel it with my heart. And maybe next time, then, I know that I can make that better and have more confidence and make my voice more mature.

Q: Do you think you’ll audition again?

A: I would love to audition again. I don’t know what’s in store for me for college, but it’s definitely not out of the picture.

Q: What’s your best advice for someone auditioning for a show like Idol?

A: I would say, know yourself. You should know the artist that you want to be before you audition for “American Idol.” That’s what I was lacking. I didn’t know what kind of artist I wanted to be, I didn’t know if I wanted to be, like, soul or rock or anything. I had no idea. But now looking back, I know what it is that I’m going to do with my life. For anybody who wants to pursue their dream of being in the entertainment business, to be a singer, I say, do not give up. Good things come to those who wait.

Eric Danton is rock critic for the Hartford Courant. He also appears on FOX CT. Find him at edanton@courant.com, erdanton on Twitter and his blog at www.courantblogs.com/sound-check/