HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — One of Kentucky's own came close to tasting victory on this season of American Idol. 

What You Need To Know

  • NKU student Alyssa Wray made it to the top nine of American Idol
  • While Wray was sent home, she said it was a life-changing experience

  • Kentuckians across the state including the governor have shown their support

  • Wray said she’s not sure what’s next, could work on a soul album

While her time on the show is now over, Northern Kentucky University student Alyssa Wray certainly made many of her fellow Kentuckians very proud, ascending to a top-nine contestant.

“I remember watching it growing up and seeing the contestants sit in the lounge and hearing the theme, and I was like, 'wow, that seems so cool,'” Wray said. “But you know, TV’s not always what you think it is. But it’s just like that in person.”

The 19-year-old sultry soul, modern chill vibe singer said her journey has been nothing short of life-changing.

“It’s been absolutely insane, but it’s been so amazing,” she said. “Just within like, what, six months, I have people who are looking to me and wanting to hear an album and music and stuff, so it’s just been great and I’m very grateful.”

Her journey started in small-town Perryville, Kentucky, where Wray started singing at church as a kid.

“I picked up a microphone one day and I never put it down,” she said.

It brought her to NKU where she spent a little bit of time as a freshman before leaving for the show.

“NKU was amazing just for the little time that I got to be there this year,” she said. “I met some of my best friends now. I met some wonderful professors. I actually miss them a lot. Like my piano teacher, one of my favorite guys ever.”

In August, Wray began talking to friends about auditioning for American Idol. In September, she went through the initial audition process over Zoom. Her live, in-person audition came in November.

From NKU to Hollywood, Wray fulfilled a childhood dream, becoming a contestant on a show she grew up watching. She impressed judge Lionel Richie in particular from the start.

“I remember when I first was auditioning, I was like, you know if I could just make it to the top 40 that would be wonderful and that was the big thing to me,” Wray said.

Wray became an overnight celebrity, making it to the top nine before her elimination on the May 2 episode of the show. While she didn’t win it all, it wasn’t for a lack of support from her fellow Kentuckians, Wray said.

Gov. Andy Beshear even Tweeted his support, saying “Kentucky, let's make sure to tune in to American Idol and vote for one of our own, Alyssa Wray. Good luck Alyssa - you're making the commonwealth proud!”

“I’m really thankful for everyone back home. People I know and people I don’t know, that are just supporting me through the whole journey,” Wray said.

Wray said she has a lot of big decisions to make. Whether that includes returning to NKU remains to be seen, but she said a soul R&B or pop-soul album is a possibility in the future.