Where Are They Now: These 4 Black Entertainers Found Stardom After ‘American Idol’
On this day in 2002, American Idol premiered on Fox. The show follows singers with aspirations of super stardom on their musical journey in a series of challenges from their initial auditions to fulfilling their childhood and lifelong dreams.
Today (June 11) marks the 19th anniversary of the popular show, which ran on the Fox network for 15 seasons before transitioning to ABC in 2018. To celebrate the show’s anniversary, the network announced its return of its virtual “Idol Across America” auditions.
If you’re wondering what the stars from American Idol are up to today, look no further. The contestants were judged by three of music’s greatest industry leaders like the formidable and most memorable judges who led the show in its initial seasons, judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. Their honest criticisms built the careers for some of the most successful artists in music across multiple genres.
American Idol is responsible for launching some of the biggest names in music from season one champion Kelly Clarkson to R&B sensation Fantasia, and widely successful country star Carrie Underwood. There are plenty more stars to add to the growing list of American Idol winners. Nevertheless, this year we celebrate the anniversary of the trending show and Black Music Month alike, with the four Black American Idol winners 19 seasons later.
Here’s what these four artists are up to now:
Studdard rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol and received a Grammy Award nomination in 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his recording of “Superstar.” He lost to his idol, Luther Vandross, at the time. Ruben Studdard also earned a 2003 Billboard Music Award. The following year, Studdard won an NAACP Outstanding New Artist award.
Since then, Studdard has released eight studio albums, the most recent one being 2018’s Ruben Sings Luther. Soulful and its follow-up I Need an Angel were certified Platinum and Gold, respectively, but subsequent albums never quite met the same success. His biggest hit to date was the soulful “Sorry 2004.” A bop.
Fantasia rose to fame as the winner of the third season of the show. She most recently gave birth to her daughter Keziah and shared a photo of them snuggled in the hospital. Fantasia released a series of notable records from “Free Yourself,” “When I See You” and “Truth Is.” She recently toured before the pandemic and released her album Sketchbook in 2019.
The gifted Soul singer has also appeared on Broadway as Celie in The Color Purple and acting as herself in The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not A Fairytale.
Jordin Sparks saw fame in 2007 after winning the sixth season of American Idol at age 17, becoming the youngest winner in the series’ history. Most recently, Sparks portrayed the lead character Sparkle Williams in the remake of the Sparkle. Sparks has blossomed into a beautiful, gifted young woman since her days on American Idol. She is a mom, wife and successful entertainer.
Candice Glover won the twelfth season of American Idol. Glover is the first winner to have auditioned three times before being cast for the live shows. She also became the first female American Idol winner since Sparks during season 12 in 2013. Glover’s debut album Music Speaks was released on February 18, 2014. The South Carolina native celebrated her own day on May 4.
After a hiatus, she released her single “My Mistake” in 2017 followed by her song “Break Me” in 2018. She starred in the Broadway musical Home for the Holidays in 2017 and appeared in the hit drama series, Underground.