Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jordin Loses Voice, But Keeps Her Cool reports that in the red-hot media frenzy following Jordin Sparks being named the newest America Idol, it sounds like the 17-year-old singer has lost her voice.

Sparks just laughed off the worn-out vocal cords when a reporter asked her about it, and went on with her conference call - one final major interview after months of being in the spotlight.

"It's been crazy, the day before yesterday I did press all night long until 11:45. I did a bunch of affiliate stuff, I did Leno and Ellen. I've had a good time!"

The Glendale, Arizona, native was declared the winner Wednesday night, edging out the eccentric beat-boxing Blake Lewis.

"He's been one of my biggest supporters since the beginning, and it's been cool to share the stage with him," says Sparks.

It was a record vote for "Idol," with more than 74 million text messages and calls pouring in from across the U.S. After host Ryan Seacrest declared her the winner, Sparks took the stage to sing her coronation song "This is My Now."

The song was selected from the first-ever "Idol" song writing competition.

"It's actually so perfect, because I remember sitting down and listening to the song and thinking about how perfect it was," says Sparks. "Through this whole process, it was something I have been dreaming about. I love singing it because it spoke to me."

As the daughter of retired NFL player Phillippi Sparks, the young chanteuse says she now has a new connection with her father.

"When he was playing football, we would go to the games and we would watch. I really looked up to him for that, and it really came full circle because I used to watch him sign autographs after games, and last night he was watching me sign my own."

Sparks explains that she is relying on her family for support as she grows into the newfound fame that "Idol" promises.

"I've got a really good family around me, and they keep me grounded. They keep telling me, 'Don't let it go to your head!' As long as I have them with me, I'll be okay," she says.

After her first audition, judge Simon Cowell initially thought that Sparks wasn't good enough to make it on the show.

It was only after she won an "Arizona Idol" competition that she had a second chance and received a golden ticket.

The splashy "American Idol" finale, which showered Sparks in confetti in her crowning moment, reflected a time when she was first inspired to be a professional singer.

"I've always loved to sing, but I remember watching an awards show, I don't remember which, and Mariah Carey performing. She was so beautiful, and I knew then that's what I wanted to do."

Pursuing a singing career full-time, Sparks has been schooled at home for the last two years. And while she has been training for a shot at the big time - there was still much for the big-voiced beauty to learn on the "Idol" stage.

"This whole process has made me a better person. It's taught me how to emote better, and how to be a better performer and it's taught me how crazy a week's schedule can be. I wouldn't have traded it for anything," says Sparks.

Still playful at heart, one other accomplishment besides winning "Idol" stands out in the mind of the talented teen.

"Getting my braces off," says Sparks with a laugh.

"DO I MAKE YOU PROUD" reports that this Memorial Day weekend, our American troops will be remembered in many special ways. Redstone Properties in Scottsboro, Ala., has donated 1,000 Taylor Hicks CDs to the Proud of Our Troops drive. (Hicks owns property No. 219 in the development and does promotional appearances for Redstone). The Proud of Our Troops drive is an ongoing drive sponsored by Jewelry Sprout, which sends Taylor Hicks CDs to our men and women all over the world who are serving our country.

The Proud of Our Troops drive began in June, 2006, and in 21 weeks, 3,157 copies of Hicks’ debut single, "Do I Make You Proud" were sent to American soldiers overseas. The goal for Part 2 of the drive is 10,000 copies of Taylor's full-length self-titled CD, "Taylor Hicks,” to the troops.

Organizers of the drive are asking the public to join them in showing support and thanks to our troops by sending them a gift that will provide them not only with music, but a reminder that they are in the thoughts of citizens back home.

Click here for info if you wish to participate in the drive to send a “Taylor Hicks” CD to the troops.


According to The Asbury Park Press, Point Pleasant Beach rolled into the season Saturday with its Memorial Day bike parade, which featured "American Idol" contestant Antonella Barba and a local resident who served in Iraq.

Barba, of Point Pleasant, said she was glad to be at the parade.

"Everyone visits for Memorial Day," she said. At the parade's destination, the band shell on Baltimore Avenue at Little Silver Lake, Barba was slated to sing the national anthem. A color guard from American Legion Post 346, Neptune, was there to give a 21-gun salute.

The 20-year-old Idol semi-finalist also told the paper "I try not to have regrets. I look at everything as a learning opportunity . . . right or wrong, and grow from the experience."

Sitting at the kitchen table with her parents and brother, Barba is animated when she talks about her life these days.

She spends her time on her music, "writing song lyrics, and trying to establish the type of artist I want to be."

She's also planning to return to Catholic University in Washington to earn her degree in architecture. And if she has her way, Barba will be graduating with her class next spring.

"I had to take a semester off because of "Idol,' " she says. "But I'm hoping to take some classes this summer because I really do want to graduate with my class."

Getting that degree is important — just as important as embarking on a musical career.

"Whatever career path I ultimately follow, I want to be happy," Barba says. "I want it to fulfill me and allow me to grow as an individual."

Her parents and her biggest fans, Vinnie and Valerie Barba, are convinced that whatever road their daughter chooses, she is destined for great things.

Vinnie Barba describes his daughter as a young woman of substance. "She's really smart, really loving and a great student," he says. "She has a deep spirituality, and she tackles tasks with exhaustive devotion."

Valerie Barba says there's so much about Antonella that the television audience never had a chance to see. "She excels at everything and does it with grace and ease," Valerie Barba says. "When she does something, she wants to do it to perfection. She is dedicated and focused — she's an exceptional young lady."

Younger brother Vincenzo, 18, says his sister is fun to be around and a good person to look up to. "She has the potential to do a lot with her career," he says with a smile.

So why doesn't Vincenzo, who writes lyrics and plays lead guitar in the local band Hot Chicks on Pogo Sticks, pen a song for his sister? "That's what I've been asking him," Antonella says, a twinkle in her brown eyes. "I think it would be great."

And didn't Barba dedicate her performance of "Because You Loved Me" to her brother during dedication week? "I did," Barba laughs, "So now, you really do have to write me a song."

And contrary to what people may think, Barba doesn't regret her "American Idol" performance. "I'm grateful for the opportunity [to appear on 'Idol']," she says, "but it's something I would do once and only once."

She would have liked the opportunity to advance beyond the Top 16, and now, looking back, wishes she could have stepped up her performances. "I guess that's one thing I wish was different," she says, "I wished I would have sung better — let America see me sing the way I know I can."

After being voted off the show, Barba returned to her hometown — and to the loving arms of friends and family. "I needed it," she says. "I needed time out of the spotlight to focus on me."

And during that time she learned an invaluable lesson — to believe in herself. "No matter what is going on in the world, the most important thing is to believe in who you are and surround yourself with people who love you. If you can do that, nothing will be able to stop you."

She's thankful, she says, to her family, friends and fans. "The support was overwhelming," she says. "It was so appreciated, and I can't thank everyone enough."

After being voted off, Barba continued watching the Fox show and even made a trip to Los Angeles during the show's later rounds to visit with her contestant friends. "They were a really great group of people," Barba says. "We enjoyed each other's company, and we were there for each other."

And when controversy began swirling around her, "they became my support system. They were really great."

While the "American Idol" chapter of her life is over, Barba's music is not.

Several things are in the works, she says. Nothing definite yet, but. . . "I'm hard-working and determined," she says. "I don't want to come half-way on a journey and not finish. That's just not who I am."


The News & Observer daily newspaper of Raleigh has posted a "spoof" cartoon by animator Grey Blackwell focusing on Clay Aiken and other American Idol stars from North Carolina.

Blackwell's current cartoon shows Chris Daughtry, Fantasia Barrino, Bucky Covington and Kellie Picker having a meeting at Clay Aiken's house in Raleigh.

At the meeting in the cartoon, Blackwell has Aiken poking a little fun at this year's batch of contestants on American Idol including Sanjaya Malakar. Blackwell also pokes a little fun at North Carolina, as the cartoon shows Clay's Aiken mom cooking some barbeque for the meeting and Clay offers some Krispy Kreme donuts to the group.

Check out the animated spoof on "American Idol" here.

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© 2007

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