American Idol Contestants: Where Are They Now?

Published on October 20, 2017
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You religiously watched American Idol week in, week out. You felt their joys and defeats. You listened to brutal and wonderful judge evaluations but above all, you voted for your favorite every week. After a while though, maybe you stopped following the show so much but take a look at what these past favorite Idol contestants are up to now!

Ace Young

Helloooooo, Ace. You were dreamy back in season five of the show and you’re still just as dreamy now. After nine weeks on American Idol, Young was eliminated (thus breaking hearts everywhere). After the show, he released one album, has performed for charities all over (he’s a Celebrity Ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association), he’s starred in a few TV shows, and he’s starred on Broadway. He’s also married to American Idol season-three runner-up Diana DeGarmo.

Ace Young

Ace Young

Adam Lambert

Lambert was the runner up of Idol season eight but since then his career and fame have skyrocketed. He’s released three albums and his single “Whataya Want from Me”, earned him a Grammy nomination for “Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.” He has also collaborated with rock band Queen as a lead vocalist for Queen + Adam Lambert since 2011, and has culminated in a successful world-wide tour from 2014 to 2016. He’s also an ambassador for the LGBT community and has starred in Glee and countless other shows and films.

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert

Candice Glover

Your season 12 Idol winner, folks, has been quite busy. She’s been recording albums and performing live, which are both two things she does very well. She also starred in ‘The Love Shack’, a gospel musical that showed in LA.

Candice Glover

Candice Glover

Carrie Underwood

All hail queen Carrie! She won season four of Idol and since then, she has been tearing up the country music scene as one of the most successful artists in any musical genre actually. She was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2009. So far, she’s earned 7 Grammy Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards, 12 Academy of Country Music Awards, 11 American Music Awards, 7 Country Music Association Awards, and a Guinness World Record. Phew. FYI, the list goes on and on, her accomplishments since Idol are extraordinary. She’s married to NHL legend Mike Fisher and they have one son together, Isaiah.

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood

Chris Daughtry

We don’t care that Daughtry came in fourth of season five, he’s a winner to us, the man is incredibly talented and has gone on to achieve great things despite his (in mocking voice) fourth place finish. His band’s debut album became the fastest selling debut rock album in the history of Nielsen Soundscan, as it sold more than a million copies after just five weeks of release. He’s actually the third most successful Idol contestant in terms of record sales, behind only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. At the 50th Grammy Awards, the band (Daughtry) was nominated for Best Rock Song for the single “It’s Not Over.”

Chris Daughtry

Chris Daughtry

Clay Aiken

Your runner up of the second season of Idol, folks, has been something of a busy bee. He’s released a few albums, starred in various TV shows, performed on Broadway and he’s a published author. Then in 2014, Aiken announced his plan to run for Congress in North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district. He won the Democratic primary held on May 6, 2014, but lost to Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers in the general election.

Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken

Constantine Maroulis

Oh yeah, this sixth place finisher of season four is incredibly famous now. He earned a Tony Award for ‘Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical’ for his role in Rock of Ages. He also starred in the title role in Jekyll and Hyde on Broadway, and he ended up receiving a Drama League Award Nomination for a Distinguished Performance Award.

Constantine Maroulis

Constantine Maroulis

David Archuleta

At just 16 years of age, David Archuleta was one of the youngest contestants on season seven of Idol, he ended up being the runner up receiving 44 percent of over 97 million votes! Not bad. After Idol, he released a few albums then in 2012, Archuleta left for a two-year hiatus for a missionary trip of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chile. After his trip, he did release another two albums.

David Archuleta

David Archuleta

David Cook

Meet your season 7 winner! (Yes, season 7 was a David VS David finale). Since Idol, he’s released many albums and has gone on many grand tours, he’s also broken several Billboard chart records. In 2009, Cook’s brother Adam passed away from brain cancer, since then he has donated a lot of money to brain cancer research.

David Cook

David Cook

Diana DeGarmo

Diana is the runner up of season three and after her Idol success, she has done Broadway, three national tours, starred on a soap opera and released a full album and two EPs. She’s also married to fifth-season American Idol finalist Ace Young. I know, right? Lucky woman.

Diana DeGarmo

Diana DeGarmo

Didi Benami

Didi placed tenth of the ninth season of Idol but she’s been quite active after the show. In 2014, her debut album Reverie became available. She’s been a guest on various talk shows like The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Access Hollywood, and the Late Show.

Didi Benami

Didi Benami

Elliott Yamin

Yamin finished third of the fifth season and since then, he’s released three albums. He’s a spokesperson for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). In his fall 2007 concert tour, Yamin announced that 100% of the proceeds from the sale of designated T-shirts and pins would go to the Life for a Child Program, which provides insulin, as well as diabetes-related care and supplies, for children in developing countries.

Elliott Yamin

Elliott Yamin

Fantasia Barrino

Or just Fantasia as she prefers. She was the winner of the third season of Idol and after her win, she released her debut single, “I Believe,” which debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. She also released her debut album, Free Yourself, which became certified Platinum by the RIAA and garnered Barrino three Grammy nominations in 2006. Her 2010 single “Bittersweet,” won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. She’s also starred on Broadway and was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Fantasia

Fantasia Barrino

Jason Castro

Our fourth place finisher of season seven is a little cutie. His rendition of ‘Hallelujah’ still gives me goosebumps to this day, it was one of his best performances hands down. He did release a few albums and he also starred on some TV shows. However in 2014, he experienced a symbolic spiritual reawakening and cut his dreadlocks, since then he’s worn his hair much shorter. He married his high school best friend Mandy Mayhall, the pair have two kids together.

Jason Castro

Jason Castro

Jennifer Hudson

Everyone was utterly shocked when Jennifer Hudson was eliminated from the third season of Idol, placing seventh overall. However, the show was her platform and her fame and career launched after that. She made her film debut as Effie White in Dreamgirls, for which she gained worldwide acclaim and won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress. She’s released three albums, her debut album was nominated for four Grammy Awards and she won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. In 2013, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The list goes on and on folks, she’s a star.

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson

Jessica Sanchez

Before her Idol days, she already had some success on the first season of America’s Got Talent, she sang the national anthem at the 2009 Chargers versus Miami Dolphins matchup, and she did a lot more. She was actually the runner up the 11th season of Idol and since then, she’s released a few albums, performed at many galas and tours and some sports events, plus she had a reoccurring role on Glee.

Jessica Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez

Jordin Sparks

Oh yeah, our girl Jordin won season six of Idol (she was only 17 at the time, making her the youngest winner of the show’s history) and has been kicking butt since then. She’s released three albums, enjoyed crazy success with many of her singles (like No Air and Battlefield), she also starred on Broadway, some films and TV shows and released three different perfumes. For five years, she wasn’t up to much but in 2014 she came back with her first mixtape, #ByeFelicia. How could we forget that she dated Jason Derulo for three years.

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks

Katharine McPhee

How Kat didn’t win season five and only was a runner up is still beyond me. I mean, seriously, the woman has killer pipes. She’s had four successful albums and has also established a highly successful acting career (in films like The House Bunny and shows like Scorpion). Currently she’s working on her fifth album.

Katherine McPhee

Katharine McPhee

Katie Stevens

Stevens may have finished eighth in Idol’s ninth season but she’s currently starring as Karma Ashcroft in the MTV series Faking It. Let’s not forget that at just age 13, she performed at Carnegie Hall!

Katie Stevens

Katie Stevens

Kellie Pickler

Kellie Pickler may have finished sixth of the fifth season but she is a huge country music artist and TV personality. Her debut album, Small Town Girl, after her Idol exit and was certified gold by the RIAA, and it produced three singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. In 2013, she and partner Derek Hough won Dancing with the Stars. She eloped and married songwriter Kyle Jacobs in 2011. She’s also massively involved in countless charities, like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Red Cross and some USO tours.

Kellie Pickler

Kellie Pickler

Kelly Clarkson

EVERYONE knows Kelly Clarkson and everyone knows that she was the first winner ever. Plus, everyone knows that she’s a mega huge star now. Her second album Breakaway earned her two Grammy Awards. Her fifth album Stronger won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album, making her the only act to receive the award twice. She’s currently working on her eighth album. In a career spanning over a decade, she has accumulated 100 Billboard number-one hits and sold over 25 million albums worldwide. Girl power! She has her own line of Hallmark gift cards and in February 2016, she published her first children’s book.

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson

Kimberley Locke

Locke finished third of the second season of Idol and since then she’s had a great music career and has found some success as a model. In 2007, she gained some more attention when she participated in Celebrity Fit Club. She is also an ambassador in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and Breast cancer.

Kimberley Locke

Kimberley Locke

Kris Allen

This Arkansas man won season eight of Idol. He’s released five albums so far but it’s his charity work this is even more impressive. After his missionary work in several countries around the world, including Burma, Thailand, Mozambique, Morocco, Spain, and South Africa with the University of Central Arkansas’ Chi Alpha campus ministry – Allen actually contracted a rare form of hepatitis and was ill for an entire year. After this, he volunteered and donated even more, he’s also inspired his fan to do volunteer work.

Kris Allen

Kris Allen

Kristy Lee Cook

Finishing seventh in the seventh season has a ring to it. She released one album, Why Wait, and has also been involved in quite a few shows. Also she was the host of the TV series on hunting on the Versus channel, Goin’ Country, in 2011.

Kristy Lee Cook

Kristy Lee Cook

Phillip Phillips

The winner of season 11 of Idol may have a rather unique name but he’s also a master musician. He is currently working on his third album and has worked a lot with Sarah foundation and the Gibson flood relief campaign. In 2015, he married his girlfriend Hannah Blackwell.

Phillip Phillips

Phillip Phillips

Ruben Studdard

Ruben is the winner of Idol’s second season. In 2003, he received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for “Superstar”. After Idol, Studdard has released six albums, including his platinum-selling debut, Soulful, plus his top-selling gospel follow-up, I Need an Angel. He also appeared on The Biggest Loser.

Ruben Studdard

Ruben Studdard

Sanjaya

I think everyone remembers Sanjaya, he was a finalist on the sixth season and he gained a lot of national attention on the series, as he controversially advanced to seventh place with public votes, although he received poor comments by the show’s judges, particularly Simon Cowell. He made a lot of TV appearances following Idol but in 2012, he ended up working in a bar because he didn’t spend his money appropriately at a young age.

Sanjaya

Sanjaya

Scotty McCreery

This dreamboat country singer won season 10 of Idol and since then has achieved quite a bit. He won the Best New Artist award at the ACM Awards in 2012 and also received the Breakthrough Video of the Year Award. In 2015 he released his third album but parted ways with his record company.

Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery

Taylor Hicks

How in the world Taylor Hicks won season five and not Katharine McPhee is still beyond me. He is the first Idol winner to secure a long-term residency in Las Vegas, in 2013, he moved to an even bigger venue. Hicks was also the first male Idol to be featured on a Grammy winning album when he performed “Friday” on Jimmy Fallon’s Blow Your Pants Off. In 2016, he plans to visit all 50 states in the INSP series State Plate, which covers food, the people, and the culture of each state. Interesting.

Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks

Tim Urban

Tim is a singer-songwriter and actor who placed seventh on the ninth season of Idol. Urban’s debut album and EP titled ‘Heart of Me was released’ in 2010 through iTunes. In 2013 Tim got married and a year later, he revealed on his YouTube account that he and his wife are expecting their first child together!

Tim Urban

Tim Urban

Tori Kelly

Kelly is an incredibly talented singer, songwriter, record producer and actress who slowly gained recognition after she started to post videos on YouTube at just the age of 14. When she was 16, Kelly went on to audition for Idol. After she was eliminated, Kelly worked on her own music. In 2012, she independently released her first EP that she produced, wrote, and mixed herself, titled Handmade Songs By Tori Kelly. The year after, Scooter Braun became her manager after he saw her videos on YouTube and introduced her to Capitol Records, with whom she signed in September. Her second EP Foreword came out in October 2013 as her first major label release. In 2015, her debut album, Unbreakable Smile, was released. The lead single, “Nobody Love”, became her first US Billboard Hot 100 appearance. Kelly was also nominated for Best New Artist at the 58th Grammy Awards.

Tori Kelly

Tori Kelly