NEW YORK — She's got a $5 million recording contract, but Melanie Amaro still sees herself as a nurse someday.
The 19-year-old was studying nursing in college before her winning run on Fox's "The X Factor." Although she's just signed a deal with Epic Records and is about to start working on her debut album, she said she still wants to pursue the field of nursing at some point.
"To be honest, I still do want to do nursing because I want to help people," she said in an interview Wednesday. "But I think as of right now I want to pursue what I absolutely love, which is my singing first. ... I'll just probably take classes while I'm on the road or something. I don't know. Whatever comes my way."
If her singing career takes off like she did on "The X Factor," she'll likely never get the chance. Amaro won the talent competition last month on the strength of her big voice and ballad-style singing. But Amaro says people shouldn't expect just slow, anthemlike songs on her debut.
"I'll still have the big ballads, but then I'm hoping to throw something out there that fans won't expect so they'll be like, 'Oh my God, there's like different stages of her or different like genres that she can do,'" says the Sunrise, Fla., resident. "So I can do lots of different types of genres of music and I wasn't able to show that a lot on the show, but I'll hopefully be able to do that on the album."
She'll be working on her album with L.A. Reid, the "X Factor" judge who is also chairman and CEO of Epic Records. Although Simon Cowell was her official mentor on the show, she said Reid always gave her confidence.
"(He said) trust my voice. ... He always told me like, 'Girl, you can sing. You can sing. You really can sing.' He was like, 'I believe in you,'" she recalled. "Just to hear words like that from L.A. Reid ... that's really big for me, you know."
Her album is set to be released this year.
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Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the AP's music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi