'An amazing experience': Algonquin native grateful for 'American Idol' appearance

The Algonquin native who competed on "American Idol" isn't sure what will come next for her and her music career, but she knows her experience on the singing competition will play a part.

Caroline Baran, who became known as Kaeyra to fans across the country, did not make it through Monday's episode of American Idol, where the top 12 performers were selected.

"It was an amazing experience," the 21-year-old Huntley High School alum said Tuesday during a phone interview. "I'm so glad I did it. I'm sad it's over, obviously. But I'm really thankful for the people I met."

Although the show came with its share of anxious moments, she said, the friendships she formed and the lessons learned were worth the nervous moments and hours of practice.

"It was overall amazing," she added.

During Monday's "American Idol" episode, members of the Top 20 learned their fate and if they got enough votes from viewers to proceed to the next round with the Top 12. Ten contestants went straight to the "victory circle," while another 10 had to perform and win over the judges for one of the final two spots in the Top 12.

Though she didn't get a spot in the Top 12, she did get high marks from Katy Perry, who gave Kaeyra an A+ for her performances on Sunday and Monday. She also earned props for her ninja-like moves when she swatted a fly off her microphone during Monday's performance.

"The judges are amazing," Kaeyra said. "I'm sure it was a very tough decision for them, and I'm happy for the people who got saved. Everyone is so amazing this season; I'm so grateful to even be in the Top 20."

During Sunday's performance, Kaeyra played piano and sang "Bruises" by Lewis Campbell. On Monday, she sang "If I Were Your Woman," a 1970s tune by Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Katy Perry's A+ marks were not enough to keep Kaeyra on "American Idol." You can keep up with Kaeyra through social media by searching @Kaeyra on Instagram and twitter. Courtesy of ABC

Before auditioning for "American Idol," Kaeyra was singing at Mastro's Restaurant in Chicago. She also performed at festivals, including Taste of Chicago and Lollapalooza, and sang the national anthem for the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls.

Her "American Idol" audition, where she sang "Cold" by Chris Stapleton, got her a standing ovation from Luke Bryan.

She said her phone has been "blowing up" since Monday's episode and that she is grateful for all the support from family, friends and fans.

Though she didn't make it to the Top 12, she plans to continue to pursue her music career and hopes to release some songs and do more shows.

"I feel like a lot of doors have opened," she said. "I feel like here's so many different options that I'm looking forward to exploring ... and that's why I'm grateful."

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