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Goodbye, 'American Idol'
Carmen Rasmusen performs during the "American Idol" concert at the Delta Center on Aug. 23, 2003. - photo by Carmen Rasmusen Herbert
Its the end of an era. American Idol announced recently that next year, season 15, will be its last.

After confirming the news on his radio show, Ryan Seacrest tweeted, this show's been a big part of my life for so long hard to imagine it w/out it.

So much of who I am I discovered while on American Idol. I will never forget pulling up to the local FOX News Studios 13 years ago and having a feeling that my life was about to change forever.

Ill never forget driving up to the Hollywood sign and wondering if I was really going to make it.

And then getting cut, called back and actually being selected for the show such a roller coaster of emotions, experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.

People ask me all the time if I still keep in touch with my seasons contestants. I did for the longest time, and Im friends with some on Facebook. But life took us all in different directions, and over the years, some of us have lost touch. Even still, I feel connected to them and actually anyone from Idol because we have all experienced something, together, that no one else has.

While many of us contestants are feeling nostalgic about seeing the show finally go off the air, songwriting legend Diane Warren isnt so sentimental.

I don't think people watch it. I feel bad. It wasn't about the talent after a while. It was great when it started, she told reporters on the red carpet for the Humane Society of the United States Los Angeles Benefit Gala.

"People are fatigued. When the judges go on there, they are trying to revitalize their careers if they're not doing well. But it shouldn't be about that. Then someone wins and we go, 'Who is this artist?' And then they're gone. Record companies don't know what to do with them."

Warren was a guest judge on our season. She was a great mentor, even though it was her song, Love Will Lead You Back, for which I was booted off the show. During rehearsals, she passed out little mini-keychain games such as Sorry and checkers and had vintage video games all over her recording studio.

Producer Nigel Lythgoe, who always reminded me a little of my dad, told Us Magazine that he thought Idol was the biggest television show, the most impactful television show ever." Lythgoe went on to talk about my season, season two, and how the finale was one of the most watched and most voted for in all 14 years.

"We got at one point I think 140 million telephone calls, and Ruben Studdard in truth with the amount of phone calls he got should have been your next president, he said. Really, it was that incredible. We literally outshined the other four networks in ratings every week, so I am rather pleased that they decided to pull it season 15. Its a bit like a heavyweight boxer. At some point the young ones come up and start knocking you out and you tend to lose your legacy of how brilliant you were."

Many past contestants have also shared their feelings on the show ending on

Idol' provided many new performers with an opportunity to be heard," said season one runner-up Justin Guarini. "Like Bandstand, it will hold a pop culture nostalgia for America long after the studio is dark. I couldn't be more proud to have been part of that."

I have been back several times to other Idol finales and walked the red carpet, sat in the Kodak Theater and watched another nobody suddenly become the nations biggest superstar. I think it would be amazing if all of us top 10 from seasons past came back and sang a song on stage together. And Im not the only one. Kelly Pickler also hopes for some sort of reunion.

"It changed my life and so many others, and I was so blessed to be a part of the show," Pickler told People. "Hopefully they will have a little 'Idol' reunion for the finale next year and we can all reunite."

I am excited to see what next season has in store. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity I had to be part of such a huge, impactful show. I got to live out my dreams as a 17-year-old and experience the magic of the music industry. I made amazing friends in the other 11 contestants. The experience made me braver, stronger and more resilient, and I can absolutely say my life would be completely different and not at all as rich or rewarding without it.

I will always remember my time on Idol and hope anyone who has a dream has the courage and the perseverance to chase it down.

Its possible even if that chance is only one in about 70,000.
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