Melinda Doolittle: Relieved to Be Done

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Melinda Doolittle probably wishes she had a chance to be named American Idol. But she's also breathing a sigh of relief at being eliminated last night.

"Knowing that I had made it this far and knowing that I was going to be able to sing from here on out without being judged and voted? �it was just like this sigh of relief," she told Ryan Seacrest on his morning radio show. "Now I'm getting ready to sing just because I love it."

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The former backup singer called Seacrest's 102.7 KIIS FM show and told the host that she didn't feel any resentment after being voted off – despite receiving immense and consistent praise from all three Idol judges.

"Two amazing people are in the finale right now and I couldn't be more proud of them," Doolittle, 29, said, referring to finalists Jordin Sparks, 17, and Blake Lewis, 25, who will compete in the finale next week. "Those are still my babies. I'm still their mama. I'm so proud about it and don't feel cheated at all. There are always opportunities out there to grab onto and to take a hold of so I'm just ready for that."

And, according to Doolittle, Simon Cowell may be prepared to help her find the right opportunity. "Simon was especially supportive and said, 'I want to see you succeed,' " she told Seacrest. "That means the world to me so it was great to hear last night."

The ousted Idol also admitted that the rigorous process of rehearsals, performances and getting judged on live television week after week was difficult. "I felt like I was working so hard and when [the judges] would say good things I was so excited to hear it, it would just put this look of shock on my face."

That isn't the only thing that shocked Doolittle, who said that the level of fame and recognition she has achieved so far also surprised her. "Nothing could have prepared me for this. I knew that the show was huge. I did not know that it was this huge," she said. "The fact that it has awarded such a big opportunity to me is just the most amazing thing ever."

Unfortunately, Doolittle doesn't have much time to relax. She and the other finalists start rehearsals Thursday for next week's two-hour finale.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.