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ELLIOTT YAMIN, another White R&B singer, has had solid success with his two albums and is expected to be around for a long time. Same for perky Kellie Pickler, who was embraced instantly in the country music field. Bucky Cunnington was well received there as well.
Pop success beckoned for second place finisher Katherine McPhee and she answered the call. Meanwhile, Mandisa, the big lady with the big R&B voice who has been losing a lot of weight lately, has enjoyed substantial success on the charts. Her first release, in the gospel genre, was titled “True Beauty,” the second, “Freedom.”
Season 2 made winner Ruben Studdard — nicknamed “the Velvet Teddy Bear” by Gladys Knight — a star. But Clay Aiken, who placed an extremely close second, has had Platinum recording success and was recently on Broadway in the comedy “Monty Python’s”Spamalot.”
Third place winner Kimberley Locke has made a name for herself not only as a recording artist, but also as an official spokeswoman for plus-size women.
Meanwhile, Josh Gracin has had been successful in the country field.
THE SEASON 4 winner, beautiful Carrie Underwood, has won virtually every award available to a country artist. But the runner-up, the personable and talented Bo Bice, was the first “American Idol” contestant to make an impact with rock music. His following is solid.
Constantine Maroulis, another rocker, was also a big attraction that season. Since then he has done concerts and landed a series on stage roles, including “Rock of Ages” for which he won a Tony nomination.
Winner Jordin Sparks is talented and likable, but during Season 6, Melinda Doolittle was clearly the best singer. She was, in fact, incredible. For example, goose bumps were induced when Doolittle sang “My Funny Valentine.” It was a classic performance. However, she was just too mature to be the American Idol.
Her “rival” that season, LaKisha Jones, has been kept busy singing and acting, including a role on Broadway in “The Color Purple.”
Season 7 was “the season of the Davids” — winner David Cook and runner-up David Archuleta. Both have done very well and seem destined for lasting stardom. Archuleta was the better singer, but his youth was no doubt a major factor in Cook having the edge.
And we cannot leave out Tamyra Gray from Season 1. (Kelly Clarkson, who is almost a superstar, won that season.) Gray has repeatedly proven herself as a singer, actress (“Boston Public,” “Half and Half,” etc.) and songwriter. She composed “I Believe,” sung by Fantasia after she was crowned Season 3 winner.
Other finalists have had varying degrees of success as well, though not to the extent of those cited.
Clearly, being an “American Idol” finalist is a shortcut to success in the music industry, a fact noted by Berry Gordy when he addressed the Season 8 finalists when they visited the Motown Historical Museum in Detroit.
Many doors are opened to you, said LaToya London. You just have to be ready to walk through them and then work very hard to take full advantage of the opportunities.
As someone wise put it, there is plenty of room at the top. It’s the bottom that’s crowded.
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