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Kimberley Locke

Kimberley Locke

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Since competing on American Idol, Kimberley Locke has performed at plenty of LGBT shindigs. "When I started, I asked my manager, 'What attracts the gay community to a celebrity?' " recalls Locke, whose new album, Based on a True Story, hits stores this summer. "He said, 'We like strong women.' I thought, OK, I can accept that."

Tell me about the new CD. I was able to cowrite every song except for one, so it's very personal and confessional. The first single, "Supawoman," is about who I am and the reality of any girl who has her shit going on out there in the single world. Then there's a song called "Friend Like You," and the hook is "Who needs an enemy when I've got a friend like you."

Ouch. I take it that's not about your old roommate and former Idol cohort Clay Aiken. We're still close. We don't talk as much as we used to because we're out here working and hustling, but we talk when we can.

Recently there have been tabloid stories alleging that Clay is gay. Do you talk to him about that? I am aware of it, and most of time I just give him a phone call to see how he's dealing with it. Then I just let it go from there.

Are you watching the current season of Idol? [Long pause] No. [Laughs] I'm sorry. I catch it every now and then. I can't deny what the show did for me, but I think it's a give-and-take situation. They have a show; they need a talent. I let them use my talent, and I used them as a vehicle.

And you had a big hit without them with "8th World Wonder." Was that vindicating? It was, because people think we get on the show and we're overnight successes. It's so not true. Look at how many Idols are not doing anything.

Which brings us to Mandisa from this season. Did you hear what she said about gay people and how she probably would not perform at a gay event? I read what she said on Advocate.com and I was shocked. I immediately thought to myself, Big, big mistake. I understand that Mandisa's a spiritual person. I'm a Christian as well, and my mother always told me, "Clean off your own doorstep before you go trying to clean up somebody else's." Black people and gays and any other minority groups in America have all been through our struggle, and we know what it is to be judged, so why would we project that onto someone else? Maybe we can give her the benefit of the doubt and say she hasn't been exposed enough. But I think that Mandisa, being a black woman who has got a big voice, shot herself in the foot, because she did lose a very loyal group of fans.

I guess that means more gay pride gigs for you this summer. Good [laughs]. There's so much support there for me that sometimes it's overwhelming. Gay people are so loyal, and you can't ask for a better fan base. If I'm having a bad day and I've got a gay event to go to, I know it's going to make me feel better. They really lift me up, and I appreciate it so much.

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