‘Idol’ finalist Murray happy to be home

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mississippi School of the Arts star Jasmine Murray has lived thelast four months in fame and recognition from all across thecountry, but the 17-year-old “American Idol” finalist is feelingfine about being home in the Magnolia State.

“It was amazing, but I’m just happy to be back with my family,”Murray said Tuesday during events for the day named in her honor inBrookhaven. “Coming back to school was like normal, it was just,’Jasmine, we missed you.’ I feel like a pretty normal person atMSA.”

Of course, Brookhaven couldn’t let Murray return to normalcywithout throwing in its own star treatment.

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She appeared in downtown Brookhaven Tuesday night to meet alarge crowd, sign autographs for her fans and take her place withthe MSA Choir once more. The more than one-hour ceremony was partof Jasmine Murray Day, which city aldermen declared in advance.

Leaders proclaimed April 14, 2009 as Murray’s day because of allthe things she’s done for her state and school this year. Since herarrival on the national “American Idol” scene in January, respectfor Mississippi and interest in the arts school has jumped, withMSA officials reporting a record number of applications for the2009-10 school year.

But Murray has no illusions. She’s still a Mississippi girl,despite all the Hollywood the world famous singing show poured ontoher.

“I’m the same Jasmine,” said Murray. “I’m happy with who I amand that I got that much closer to my dream. ‘American Idol’ hasreally helped me grow as a person, to challenge myself. When youstep on the stage on TV, it’s not like singing in front of themirror.”

Murray said she was able to grab the microphone and let fly withher powerful voice in front of millions each week because of thesupport she received from home and away. She returned to MSA afterSpring Break following her March dismissal from the show.

“I kind of forget sometimes – someone will come over and say,’Hi Jasmine, I loved you on ‘American Idol,'” she said. “Peoplecome up to me and say they voted for me, they supported me and thatthey want to be a singer, too. That’s what it’s all about -inspiring people.”

Murray will have at least one more chance to inspire people fromthe national stage, though her friends and supporters swear she’llgo nationwide again someday. The “American Idol” finale on May 20will see her reunited with the show’s other Top 13 contestants fora season-ending blowout in which this year’s winner will benamed.

“I’m definitely looking forward to going back out there – I missthem all so much,” Murray said of the “American Idol”competitors.

In the meantime, Murray said she will continue to work on hersinging skills at MSA and at home, and she may one day venture intoother forms of entertainment.

“I want to try other avenues, like acting or modeling, and seewhat else I’m good at,” she said.