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The "American Idol" runner-up is up for Choice Female Country Artist and Choice TV: Female Reality Star at the July 22 Teen Choice Awards. "I was super excited when I found out about that," Lauren gushes. "I was also nominated for a CMT Award this year. I didn't win; Scotty (McCreery) did. But I'm cool with it, because that's happened before! [laughs] But at the Teen Choice Awards, I'm not up against him! It's just cool to be nominated and for people to recognize your hard work."
That hard work has included opening for Jason Aldean on the My Kinda Party tour. During most shows, Lauren was invited back to the stage with the country superstar to sing Kelly Clarkson's part on the chart-topping duet, "Don't You Wanna Stay." She credits the tour with giving her not only a career boost but also a boost in confidence.
"It was a life changing experience for me," the "18 Inches" singer says. "My stage presence got better, and I feel more comfortable in front of people."
Lauren's also feeling a bit more comfortable in her skin these days. She's made a few changes to her appearance, including chopping off her long locks into a cute bob, going blonder and slimming down ... way down. The 5'7" beauty has started working out -- something to which she admits never really committing herself before. She credits her new svelte figure to a workout DVD called "Insanity."
"It's like P90X but harder. I did P90X the other day and thought it was kinda easy!" the singer explains. "You move constantly, and then when you're done you don't move! So I don't recommend it right before you have to go somewhere. [laughs] But it definitely gets you in shape. I can tell a difference on stage since I've been working out, I can hold my notes longer and don't get out of breath as easily."
Lauren is now on tour with Sugarland, but before hitting the road with the superstar duo, she lived out yet another dream: recording a song with Aerosmith. The 17-year-old star contributed background vocals to a song called "Oh Yeah," which may appear on the rockers' upcoming album, Music From Another Dimension.
"I'm not sure if it's going to be on the album or not, because they're still making final decisions," Lauren concedes. "But I got to go in the studio with Aerosmith, and that's fine with me! Who can say that? It's neat to say Steven Tyler's my friend; I'm lucky."
Singing with Aerosmith and Jason Aldean, vying for major awards and performing for sold-out crowds has all happened in just a little over a year for this high school cheerleader. But she's slowly but surely becoming an old pro.
"It's a lot easier on my brain this year!" Lauren laughs. "I was kinda scattered last year, in Nashville for the first time. I was running around just trying to find my way. This year, I'm still running around but at least I know what to expect when I'm running!"