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"Idol" Anoop Desai ditches grad school for music

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Out but far from down, “American Idol” reject Anoop Desai said on Thursday he was leaving behind his graduate school studies to pursue a career in the music industry.

Performer Anoop Desai poses at the party for the 12 finalists of the television show "American Idol" in Los Angeles March 5, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Desai, 22, only the second singer of Indian descent to reach the final stages of the TV talent show, said he had learned from the show that music was his first love.

Asked whether he was returning to college in North Carolina, where he was doing a post-graduate course in folklore before auditioning for the show, Desai told reporters.

“I am definitely going to pursue a music career. Singing is what I am the happiest doing. It’s what I do the best,” the political science and American studies graduate said in a telephone conference call.

“I want to go the pop and R&B round...I am looking forward to making that album,” he said, adding he was a fan of American singer-songwriter Ne-Yo.

Desai, nicknamed “Noop Dogg” by fans, has drawn a huge army of fans in India -- where “American Idol” is broadcast -- as well as in the United States.

His computer software designer father was born in India and his biochemist mother, who is also of Indian descent, was born in South Africa.

The second “American Idol” contestant of Indian descent after 2007’s Sanjaya Malakar to reach the coveted Top 10 of the competition, Desai was voted off on Wednesday night along with Memphis native Lil Rounds, leaving five singers in the competition.

“My fans have been so supportive throughout this process. they are loving and kind and they really do care about me. That is a very gratifying feeling to know there are millions of votes coming in from people you don’t even know,” Desai said.

Although no record contracts have been announced, Desai will be part of the Idol summer tour in the United States.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant