By Evelyn Seijido
Lauren Alaina is not your average teenager.
One year ago, the 17-year-old was flipping pizzas at a pizzeria in Georgia, and this month ABC News spent the day with the “American Idol” runner up as she toured New York City to promote the release of her debut album, “Wildflower.”
Alaina says the album name was inspired by her sweet and sometimes sassy personality.
“Anybody that knows me kind of laughs at that title, because it’s a really good description of who I am,” she said.
We were with Alaina as she began her day rocking out on the “Good Morning America” stage. She performed her two hit singles “Georgia Peaches” and “Like My Mother Does,” the latter a tribute to everything her mother sacrificed for her daughter’s burgeoning career.
“‘American Idol’ is probably the hardest thing that I will ever go through in my whole life,” she told Robin Roberts in an interview for the “In the Spotlight” special. “When I tried out for the show I was 15 and my mom had to quit her job and literally put her life on hold.”
Alaina is no stranger to performing in front of crowds. She remembers bouncing around from restaurants to karaoke bars looking for any chance to perform.
”Since I was like 3 years old, [I've] been a really big ham,” she told Roberts. “I just love to be in front of crowds and sing.”
After her “GMA” appearance, we headed to a Best Buy store in Union Square where Alaina was delighted to purchase the first album of her career, fresh off the new release shelf.
”I’ve wanted to put out an album since I was 3 years old,” she told Roberts. ”I don’t even know if that’s possible, if a 3 year old has that mentality, but it’s always been a goal of mine.”
She took time to tour the store, sign autographs, pose for pictures and then shouted out playfully, “Doesn’t anybody else want to buy my CD?”
Alaina says she recognizes that her newfound fame comes with a responsibility to set a good example for her young fans. She chooses songs and lyrics that parents and preteens can enjoy with a clear conscious.
”I know a lot of my fans are young girls and it’s kind of my job now to set an example for those girls,” she told Roberts. “I mean, an adult will respect me more if I pick a song because a little girl can hear it.”
One of her own role models is a fellow “American Idol” alum.
“Carrie Underwood is definitely who I look up to the most in country music because she started on the show I started on and…she’s such a nice down-to-earth person.”
Now Alaina spends her days tweeting and texting with her new friend Underwood.
“She …told me she bought the album and watched me on Good Morning America!” she exclaimed.
Alaina may be on her way to the top of country music charts but she’s still a teenage girl at heart. We went out for lunch where she shared chicken soup with her mom and giggled over how cute the waiter was. When asked what she misses most about high school, Alaina resplied, “I went back the other day during school lunch and…I asked one of my friends if I could take their tray. They were like ‘are you serious’? and I know that sounds crazy but it’s stupid things like that that I miss.”
What’s next for Lauren Alaina? She says she plans to go on tour in 2012, and hopes to finally get her driver’s license.
On Nov. 2 she tweeted, “No driver’s license… I didn’t fail, I slept through the appointment.”