Season 12, Summer Cummingham

The singer caught in the middle talks about the Nicki-Mariah blowup

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The gal at the middle of the Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey blowup says the whole ordeal made her “a little nervous.”

At the same time, she told FOX Savannah that she appreciated how Nicki jumped to her defense when the other judges tried to pin her down on whether she was a country singer.

Summer Cunningham during the audition that sparked the Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey blowup. (FOX Photo)Meet Summer Cunningham, a 20-year-old sophomore at Georgia Southern University, where she majors in public relations but dreams of a career as a singer.

So she auditions for American Idol and winds up in the middle of diva drama that’s been the Idol hot topic for months.

Summer told FOX Savannah she’s been singing all types of music since she was a little kid and auditioned with a classic like “Lean On Me” that couldn’t be pegged to a particular genre.

“They kinda could just see how my voice was in a raw state, which is what I wanted.”

Nicki immediately complimented her on having a “really pretty voice” with a “lovely tone.”

Then Keith Urban asked Summer where she sees herself as a singer.

“I did the country thing,” Summer replied. “I’m more of a soulful country, maybe.”

And you could see the irritation on the face of the panel’s country singer. And hear it in his voice.

A debate ensued over what type of music would suit Summer best. Randy and Mariah agreed that country music was the answer. Summer was quizzed. Looking rather concerned about her Idol fate, Summer professed her love of country music.

A vote was taken. Summer was Hollywood bound.

But Nicki was miffed by the whole country music debate. She thought the other judges were trying to pigeonhole Summer as a county singer and potentially “scaring her” into saying something she didn’t believe.

A relieved Summer was finally dismissed from the room, golden ticket in hand.

But the debate among the judges continued, with Nicki eventually stomping off set after a comment made not by Mariah, but by Randy, about his 30 years of experience in the music business.

Fact is, Nicki was right, Summer told FOX Savannah.

“I really didn’t want to put myself in just one little pocket. I wanted to come in there an open slate and be who I wanted to be as an artist and develop over time. I didn’t just want to just be the country singer. Or the R&B singer. Or a certain genre.”

While Summer thinks the judges had her “best interests at heart,” she says she also appreciates the way Nicki stood up for her.

At the same time, it was all a little unsettling, Summer said.

“These four awesome people that you just love are sitting in front of you for the first time in your life and they’re arguing over whether you’re a country singer or not. It’s not your ideal situation.”

Summer’s one regret: the “I did the country thing” comment.

“As soon as that sentence came out of my mouth, I was like … shouldn’t have said that. It came out the wrong way.”

If you missed it, here’s Summer’s audition again, followed by her interview from this morning with FOX Savannah.

For the FOX Savannah story, go here.

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