Mazomanie native Skylar Grey, who co-wrote the chart-topping song, "Love the Way You Lie," was a big hit on the Grammys last month when she performed with Eminem and Dr. Dre.
"Twitter started blowing up. I got 4,000 followers within an hour of performing," Grey said from Los Angeles, where she lives part-time.
After the Grammys she was the No. 2 trending topic on Twitter. "I mean I was above Egypt for a little while — and that was bizarre," Grey said.
Grey, 25, spoke by phone this week as she prepared to rehearse for Thursday night's broadcast of "American Idol" at 7 p.m. on WMSN-TV (Ch. 47).
She will be performing "Coming Home," a song she has out with Diddy Dirty Money, a group lead by superstar Sean "Diddy" Combs.
"It's exciting. It's huge," she said about "Idol," which is expected to draw a bigger audience than the Grammys.
Grey began performing in Madison professionally with her mom, Candy Kreitlow, at age 6. The duo went by the name Generations and independently recorded three albums.
Known then as Holly Brook, Grey started performing solo at 15. She dropped out of Wisconsin Heights High School at 17 to move to L.A.
In 2006, Brook got her first big break and put out a major label album. Things didn't work out as she planned and she left Warner Bros. Records, she said, spending time in the Pacific Northwest, where her mom and stepfather now live.
"I kind of retreated into the woods because I was feeling like I was failing or something. I didn't know what to do anymore. I was trying so hard," she said. "It's kind of abusive to be in a relationship with the music industry, to be quite honest."
Grey said she went through a dark period, but recently had a metamorphosis, emerging as Skylar Grey.
She wrote "Love the Way You Lie," with Alexander Grant and Eminem, who recorded it with Rihanna. Grey said it was inspired by her struggle with the music industry. The song was nominated for seven Grammys, and as a songwriter she was nominated for two: "Song of the Year" and "Best Rap Song."
Grey's upcoming album doesn't have a name or release date yet, but she said the songs deal with the new person who emerged after her self-imposed hibernation, when she was feeling hopeless.
"I was thinking there was no hope, but I couldn't do anything else because I never made a plan B," Grey said. "I always wanted to do music."