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'American Idol' Winners from Previous Seasons — How Their Lives Changed after the Victory

Joe Akins
May 26, 2020
12:00 P.M.
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"American Idol" the famous ABC show has showcased the singing talents of several participants since 2002 and has brought out some of today's prominent musicians who now have successful careers.

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The singing competition "American Idol" first aired in June 2002 on Fox till April 2016 for two seasons before it went on a two-year hiatus. The show resumed in March 2018 when it was revived and aired on ABC.

Kelly Clarkson on September 28, 2019 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

Kelly Clarkson on September 28, 2019 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images

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SEASON 1: KELLY CLARKSON

In 2002, the reality competition brought on 121 contestants who were selected from almost ten thousand auditions. Later on, the contestants were shortlisted to thirty people, and among these was the famous singer Kelly Clarkson.

Clarkson had no idea that she would become the first on the list of the show's winners as she continued to sing her way to the top, winning the hearts of the judges and audience.

Her standout performances were the classic Aretha Franklin song "Natural Woman," Betty Hutton's "Stuff Like That There," and Celine Dion's "I Surrender."

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Kelly Clarkson attends KISS 108's Jingle Ball 2017 presented by Capital One at TD Garden on December 10, 2017 in Boston, Mass | Photo: Getty Images

Kelly Clarkson attends KISS 108's Jingle Ball 2017 presented by Capital One at TD Garden on December 10, 2017 in Boston, Mass | Photo: Getty Images

RUBBEN STUDDARD

In the second season, "Flying Without Wings," singer Rubben Studdard snatched the title of winner in 2003, and after that, he released some music. In 2018, he dropped a cover album that was dedicated to the work of "Luther Vandross."

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At twenty-one years old, the winner of the eighteenth season, Just Sam, took two titles home.

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FANTASIA BARRINO AND CARRIE UNDERWOOD

In 2004, the stunning bombshell Fantasia Barrino blew her audience away with her marvelous performances. The standout performances Fantasia gave were her renditions of Brenda Lee's "Always On My Mind," Abbie Mitchell's "Summertime" and Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools."

Fantasia's debut single was the vibrant "I Believe," which was released in 2004 and helped her rise to fame. Her successor, Carrie Underwood, had even more of an explosive career in music.

Her standout performances channeled Martina McBride, Elvis Presley, and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes. Taylor Hicks, who won in season 5 after Carrie, also channeled Presly as well as Ray La Montagne and John Denver in his outstanding episodes.

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 Fantasia performs onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival on July 8, 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

Fantasia performs onstage during the 2018 Essence Festival on July 8, 2018. | Photo: Getty Images

OTHER "AMERICAN IDOL" WINNERS

The subsequent winners of the show were Jordin Sparks in season 6, David Cooks in the next, Kris Allen, in the eighth season, whose runner-up was the popularly-loved Adam Lambert.

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Lee Dewyze, Scott McCreery, Phillip Phillips, and "I am Beautiful" crooner Candice Glover were the show stoppers in the following seasons before Caleb Johnson, Trent Harmon, Maddie Pope — the girl who made Ryan Seacrest cry — and Lane Hardy all joined to the list.

Jordin Sparks performs live on the runway at Fashion Show Las Vegas on August 15, 2015. | Source: Getty Images

Jordin Sparks performs live on the runway at Fashion Show Las Vegas on August 15, 2015. | Source: Getty Images

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Despite the massive fanbase that the show has gathered, not all winners stay in the spotlight. On May 17, 2020, the last physical production of the show was aired amid the pandemic. At twenty-one years old, the winner of the eighteenth season, Just Sam, took two titles home.

The ABC singing competition revealed that the winner, Just Sam, would be crowned virtually due to the novel coronavirus, which caused contestants to be sent home and asked to perform via satellite.

The show's producers showed that the determination they had been exhibiting since 2002 would not wane in the face of the global crisis. They intend to crown the next lucky singer remotely in their upcoming season.

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