Saturday, February 21, 2009

Whatever happened to Melinda Doolittle?

As things heat up on this year's American Idol, one wonders if any of the eventual finalists will be as stellar (or lackluster) as those who made it to the final 12 in earlier seasons. For me, among the most phenomenal vocalists discovered by the reality show is Melinda Doolittle--talentwise, if any of this year's contestants come near the 3rd placer of season 6, then we would have found a real gem. 

But what has happened to the former back-up singer, who despite being safe week after week on American Idol, was suddenly eliminated right before the finals? After bowing out to runner-up Blake Lewis and Idol winner Jordin Sparks, Doolittle began performing with Michael W. Smith on his concert tours, and then recorded her first single, My Funny Valentine--a piece she sang to much acclaim on the Idol show.

This month, however, Doolittle released her first allbum, COMING BACK TO YOU, which sold a modest 10,000 copies on its first week. True, during her stay on Idol, the artist was criticized for appealing to a more mature and niche audience compared to Jordin Sparks (who's debut CD sold 119,000 on its first week), but this in no way diminishes Doolittle's talent, which reaches new heights in the album. A compilation of tracks with a rich, soulful vibe, COMING BACK TO YOU fuses her bluesy Tennessee musical roots with her penchant for Motown, retro R&B, and Gospel (after all, she once sang back-ups for Michael McDonald, the Winans and for Kirk Franklin). The result is an album reminiscent of the projects of Tina Turner and Glady's Knight--but with an all-female back-up track plus updated instrumental arrangements.

Maybe her album will penetrate more the Adult Contemporary rather than the popular R&B charts, but hey--there's no denying this woman's a vocal force to reckon with. Check out below the single Melinda Doolittle is currently promoting, IT'S YOUR LOVE.


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FEINSTEIN'S AT LOEWS REGENCY, the nightclub proclaimed "Best of New York" by New York Magazine, will debut MELINDA DOOLITTLE in her first-ever nightclub engagement from November 17 – 21. The “American Idol” finalist will perform an intimate evening of jazz standards, pop hits and Broadway classics, in addition to selections from her CD, Coming Back To You. All shows are at the Regency Hotel (540 Park Avenue at 61st Street). For ticket reservations and club information, please call (212) 339-4095 or visit and