‘American Idol’ Winners Now: These Contestants Capitalized on Reality TV Fame

Where are the ‘American Idol’ winners now? Get updates on Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks before Season 19.


Feb. 14 2021, Updated 4:39 p.m. ET

Carrie Underwood
Source: Getty Images

Returning American Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie kicked off their next search for America’s next pop superstar when the singing competition returned for Season 19 on Sunday, Feb. 14. But where are the past American Idol winners now?

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Well, for starters, you might be familiar with this one singer named Kelly Clarkson. The singer reflected on her Idol win on Twitter in September 2020, saying the show changed her life. “I’m still hustlin’ 18 years later because I know I am blessed to have the opportunities and I still love my purpose!” she added.

Here’s more information on Kelly and other Idol winners.

Kelly Clarkson went from pop superstar to talk show host.

Kelly Clarkson
Source: Getty Images

American Idol’s debut winner has had 29 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including three No. 1 hits: 2002’s “A Moment Like This,” 2009’s “My Life Would Suck Without You,” and 2012’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).”

In 2019, Kelly returned to TV as the host of The Kelly Clarkson Show — an apt title! — and NBCUniversal recently renewed the Emmy-winning talk show through 2023, according to Deadline.

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Fantasia Barrino made ‘Idol’ history on Broadway.

Fantasia, who won Season 3, became the first Idol winner to star in a Broadway show in 2007. This happened when she joined the cast of the musical The Color Purple, playing the lead role of Celie.

She also became the first recording artist ever to debut at No. 1 with a debut single, achieving that feat with her 2004 song “I Believe,” which was co-written by Season 1 contestant Tamyra Gray. And in 2011, Fantasia won a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her song “Bittersweet.”

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Carrie Underwood has a Guinness World Record.

Source: Instagram

After being crowned the winner of Season 4, Carrie released four No. 1 albums — 2007’s “Carnival Ride,” 2009’s “Play On,” 2012’s “Blown Away,” and 2018’s “Cry Pretty” — and earned seven Grammy Awards.

She currently shares the Guinness World Record for Most Country No. 1’s for a Female Artist in the U.S. with Reba McEntire. “Since accurate sales records were introduced in the U.S. in 1991, both Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood … have amassed 10 chart-toppers,” the record-keepers note.

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Jordin Sparks was just on ‘The Masked Dancer.’

Source: Joey Contino/YouTube

In addition to her R&B career, this Season 6 winner has an enviable filmography. She shared the silver screen with Whitney Houston in the 2012 film Sparkle and fellow Idol alum Jennifer Hudson in 2013’s The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, graced Broadway in the musicals In the Heights and Waitress, and appeared in episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and The Real O’Neals. And on Feb. 3, Jordin was unmasked as the Exotic Bird on The Masked Dancer.

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Other winners have gone Platinum.

Source: Instagram

Various Idol alums have released Platinum-selling albums, meaning albums with at least 1,000,000 units sold: Season 2’s Ruben Studdard with “Soulful” in 2004, Season 5’s Taylor Hicks with his self-titled album in 2007, Season 7’s David Cook with his self-titled album in 2009, Season 10’s Scotty McCreery with “Clear as Day” in 2012, and Phillip Phillips with “The World from the Side of the Moon” in 2013.

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And we give honorable mentions to the other Idol winners: Those champs, in chronological order, are Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze, Candice Glover, Caleb Johnson, Nick Fradiani, Trent Harmon, Maddie Poppe, Laine Hardy, and Samantha “Just Sam” Diaz.

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