Thursday, March 19, 2009
Whatever happened to these Idol alums?
Today, Dolly Parton sound- and look-alike Alexis Grace was eliminated from Season 8 of American Idol--and not even the show's judges believed the petite singer from Tennessee was worth saving. This is not to say of course that Grace was without talent; she was after all likened to Kelly Clarkson early on in the competition. Which makes one ask: what happens to contestants like her who do not win the reality show's plum prize?
Several entries back, we talked about Season 6 third placer Melinda Doolittle's debut album. Now here's a peak at what other Idol alums have been up to.
According to friend and Idol fanatic Leilah Alarilla-Tadlip, this Season 5 seventh placer (bowing out to winner Taylor Hicks) shed off 75 lbs after judge Simon Cowell had commented that the show would need a bigger stage to accommodate the singer. Since her stint on Idol, Mandisa has released a contemporary gospel album (TRUE BEAUTY, 2007), which debuted #1 on the Hot Christian Albums Chart and was nominated for both a Grammy and a Dove Award. Late last year the artist launched a Christmas CD (IT'S CHRISTMAS, 2008), and is about to release her next album, FREEDOM on March 24. A sample of her new pop/dance Christian single MY DELIVERER can be heard on her official website: MANDISA.
The once junior high school music teacher took home 7th place in Season 4 (when Carrie Underwood walked away with the top prize), and was eliminated after his performance of Earth, Wind & Fire's SEPTEMBER. Though recording occasionally, the artist has taken a more active role on stage, having played Collins in the touring cast of Jonathan Larson's iconic rock musical, RENT. He then went on to play Jesus in the Syrcause Stage production of Stephen Schwartz's award-winning work, GODSPELL, which ended its run last December 28.
The youngest contestant on Season 5, Bennett eventually landed the fifth spot on American Idol, being edged out by 4th placer and now superstar, Chris Daughtry. After touring with the other finalists, she immediately worked on her debut album, dishing out PRINCESS P (after the monicker given to her by Ryan Seacrest) in 2007. The project, which carried an urban electronic vibe, failed to showcase the jazz style Bennett was known for, and as such, the album bombed. The artist then recorded a holiday album (A ROYAL CHRISTMAS) in 2008, this time with a classic R&B and acoustic jazz feel. In a few months, Bennett will be releasing her next studio album, opting again for a classic jazz musical direction. Bennett gave birth last October to her daughter, Egypt.
The Season 6 Idol finalist who vowed to make David Hasselhoff weep (the celebrity did when Taylor Hicks won), Chris Sligh was 10th place when Jordin Sparks was the eventual champion. Immediately after the show, Sligh, a devout Christian, signed up with the same management company that has handled Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, and with the independent label Brash Music, recorded the album, RUNNING BACK TO YOU in May 2008. As a result of the project, USA Today called him, "the most musically ambitious Idol to date." Since then, he has been touring relentlessly. For more on the artist, visit his personal blog: CHRIS SLIGH.
Lastly, we go to Makati-born and Hawaii-based singer Camile Velasco, who took 10th spot in Season 3 when Fantasia Barrino won (and fellow Fil-Am Jasmine Trias was 3rd). After touring with fellow Idols, Velasco appeared in many guest performances across the U.S., mostly for Filipino audiences in events such as the Fil-Am Unity Jam, Fiesta Filipinas, and Lumpiapalooza. Through these stints, she has performed with Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, and the Aegis band. She has also fronted for her personal idol, Lauryn Hill. In 2008, Velasco premiered a weekly YouTube show titled, CamileTV where she covers such pop acts as Alicia Keys, Indie Arie, and Amy Winehouse. Later in the year, she recorded her first single, GUAVA JELLY, and her debut album, KOY, is set for release in 2009. View Velsaco's YouTube channel here: CAMILE VELASCO.