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21 American Idol Winners: Where Are They Now?

american idol winners where are they now
Source: MEGA

Jul. 6 2024, Published 11:00 a.m. ET

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Season 1 Winner Kelly Clarkson

season  winner kelly clarkson
Source: MEGA

The first champion has been riding a wave of success since she snagged the win. She’s released nine albums, headlined tons of tours, shared the stage with famous musicians and has blossomed into an actress, author and TV personality with three Grammys and her own talk show! She’s also gotten married, had two kids and gone through a divorce!

"I feel like I’ve obviously progressed as a human," said Kelly Clarkson, 42. "At the same time, though, I do feel very similar and very tied to that 19-year-old that first auditioned."

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Season 2 Winner Ruben Studdard

season  winner ruben studdard
Source: MEGA

The 45-year-old singer has been thriving years after his win. Ruben Studdard has released seven albums, including his platinum-selling debut, Soulful. He’s also ventured into acting, appearing in several popular shows, including One on One, 8 Simple Rules and All of Us.

In 2018, he moved on to Broadway theater in Ruben & Clay’s Christmas Show.

Season 3 Winner Fantasia Barrino

season  winner fantasia barrino
Source: MEGA

This powerful vocalist reprised her role as Celie Johnson for the movie musical adaptation of The Color Purple, which became her feature film debut. She worked on two albums and said she will always be grateful to the show.

"It was the door that opened for me that allowed so many things, good and bad. I had to go through so many things, nobody prepares you for the industry," said Fantasia Barrino, 40.

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Season 4 Winner Carrie Underwood

season  winner carrie underwood
Source: MEGA

The country music superstar, 41, released her ninth studio album, Denim & Rhinestones, launched her SiriusXM channel, Carrie’s Country, and extended her Las Vegas residency through August. She’s married to ex-NHL player Mike Fisher and they share sons Isaiah, 8, and Jacob, 5.

"Where does the time go?" Carrie Underwood asked.

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Season 5 Winner Taylor Hicks

season  winner taylor hicks
Source: MEGA

After he won the audience over with his high energy and great stage presence, he signed with Arista Records to release his self-titled debut album.

Taylor Hicks, 47, was on the stage in Shenandoah in 2019 and featured in the film Stars Fell on Alabama in 2021. He’s also had a long-term Las Vegas residency.

"That opportunity to be able to be on that show at the time period has allowed me longevity — obviously, with hard work as well. But I’m very blessed as well," he said.

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Season 6 Winner Jordin Sparks

season  winner jordin sparks
Source: MEGA

The youngest winner in the series’ history has had hit albums and competed on The Masked Dancer and Dancing With the Stars.

Jordin Sparks, 34, has also been a mentor on American Idol and reflected, "I couldn’t believe I was back and it was my turn to share what I learned."

In 2012, she made her feature film debut in Sparkle alongside Whitney Houston.

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Season 7 Winner David Cook

season  winner david cook
Source: MEGA

The 41-year-old singer released three studio albums and four live albums with various bands before releasing his first solo album, Analog Heart. His debut single, "The Time of My Life," made the Billboard Hot 100 charts and sold 1.4 million copies.

David Cook looked back on his time at American Idol with appreciation.

"It’s still such a family," he said. "I loved my time on the show."

He married girlfriend Racheal Stump in 2015.

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Season 8 Winner Kris Allen

season  winner kris allen
Source: MEGA

The 39-year-old singer from Arkansas came out with the single "Live Like We’re Dying" in 2009 and sold over 1.7 million copies!

Kris Allen released his fifth studio album, Letting You In, in 2016, and later toured Europe with Cook.

Before American Idol, Allen was a missionary working in countries all around the world. Since winning the eighth season, he’s become involved with several charitable organizations that promote music education. He married his high school sweetheart, Katy, and they have young children together.

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Season 9 Winner Lee DeWyze

season  winner lee dewyze
Source: MEGA

The 38-year-old with the rough-hewn voice and laid-back charm already had two albums out when his success on the show catapulted him to fame.

Lee DeWyze now has seven albums and does music for TV shows like Nashville and Shameless.

"It was always about songwriting for me," he said. "It’s what I loved. That’s why I did all of that in the first place. It wasn’t for fame or any of that stuff."

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Season 10 Winner Scotty McCreery

season  winner scotty mccreery
Source: MEGA

Like Sparks, Scotty McCreery was just 17 when he won American Idol. He released his song "Five More Minutes" following his victory.

McCreery, 30, kept the momentum going and released five albums, with his latest titled Same Truck. He married in 2018 and had his first child, a son, and said, "Becoming a father is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me and watching my wife be a rock star as his mom has been the joy of my life."

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Season 11 Winner Phillip Phillips

season  winner phillip phillips
Source: MEGA
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The singer and guitarist’s debut song, "Home," is the best-selling song in American Idol history, selling over 5 million copies in the U.S.

Now 33 and a married dad-of-one, Phillip Phillips has released four albums and toured with John Mayer and the Goo Goo Dolls.

He said he was grateful for the show and offered advice for future contestants, "Know who you are as an artist, and don’t be afraid to make that statement on television."

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Season 12 Winner Candice Glover

season  winner candice glover
Source: MEGA

Candice Glover, 34, is the first winner to have auditioned three times before being cast for the live shows. She’s an R&B singer now but had a long climb to becoming a winner after Simon Cowell eliminated her in Season 9 saying she’d be nothing more than a lounge singer after she forgot the words to her song.

She said it was hard to go from a "contest winner" to being taken seriously in the real world.

"It can be nerve-wracking but I wouldn’t trade it for anything," insisted Glover.

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Season 13 Winner Caleb Johnson

season  winner caleb johnson
Source: MEGA

"It was just a surreal, almost kind of terrifying moment," said Caleb Johnson, now 33. "Then it was complete shock and amazement, and I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I just won American Idol."

He released an album titled Testify and went on to create his own label, Big Johnson Records. He’s now in a band called Caleb Johnson & the Ramblin’ Saints.

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Season 14 Winner Nick Fradiani

season  winner nick fradiani
Source: MEGA

Nick Fradiani, now 38, plays a young Neil Diamond in the Broadway production of A Beautiful Noise. Before appearing on American Idol, he competed in America’s Got Talent.

He said he felt "comfortable, no nerves whatsoever" during the finale show in 2015, and a year later, he released an album, Hurricane.

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Season 15 Winner Trent Harmon

season  winner trent harmon
Source: MEGA

The 33-year-old is now a country singer who works as a full-time songwriter in Nashville. Trent Harmon released the hit "You Got ’Em All," the title track for his debut album, in 2018.

"I got a lot of benefits from doing the show from learning to sing early in the morning and always being ready to go," he said.

In 2019, he tied the knot with longtime galpal Kathleen Couch.

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Season 16 Winner Maddie Poppe

season  winner maddie poppe
Source: MEGA

The 26-year-old folk singer plays the guitar, piano and ukulele.

Before American Idol, Maddie Poppe released an independent album, Songs from the Basement. Since the show, she released an album called Whirlwind and has gone on tour. Poppe admitted she never expected to win because of her stage fright.

"I can remember times when I’d gotten up on stage and it totally flopped," she said.

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Season 17 Winner Laine Hardy

season  winner laine hardy
Source: MEGA

Laine Hardy, 23, performed his coronation song "Flame" on The View. He also sang on the televised 2020 National Tree Lighting Ceremony and released his album Here’s to Anyone.

"When I first tried out, I couldn’t have ever imagined where I was headed," he recalled. "Since then, I’ve been able to tour across America, play for our troops in Asia, and make new fans in Europe."

In 2022, he avoided jail for allegedly bugging his ex-girlfriend’s home — but saw his career derailed by the scandal.

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Season 18 Winner Just Sam

Samantha Diaz, a 25-year-old native of Harlem, N.Y., has revealed victory didn’t automatically lead to success. Just Sam struggled with fame and was penniless and singing in New York City subway stations for tips less than two years after claiming the top spot in the competition.

The talented performer is now seeking a comeback and posts singing videos from all over the city, which have been shared by celebs such as Viola Davis.

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Season 19 Winner Chayce Beckham

season  winner chayce beckham
Source: MEGA

The 27-year-old singer is making his mark in the world of country music. His catchy tunes include "Can’t Do Without Me" and "23."

"I’m just a normal dude," said Chayce Beckham. "I traded in my 12-hour-a-day job for a 24-hour-a-day job, and this is something that I put all my energy into now."

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Season 20 Winner Noah Thompson

season  winner noah thompson
Source: MEGA

As a construction worker living in a small town, Noah Thompson loved music but never thought he’d have a shot at American Idol. Luckily, his best friend pushed him to audition, and now the 22-year-old singer is glad he did.

He released a hit single, "One Day Tonight," that’s already landed him the No. 1 spot on iTunes. But he’s still trying to get used to his sudden fame.

"It’s unbelievable. Like, my whole family, we’re all just kind of blown away by it. It’s life-changing," he said.

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Season 21 Winner Iam Tongi

season  winner iam tongi
Source: MEGA

The latest American Idol winner is Iam Tongi — and he’s only 19 years old! He’s also the first Pacific Islander and first non-country singer in three years to win the show.

He made the judges very emotional during his audition, and was a clear winner from the start.

In an interview, Tongi recalled the special moment "when they called my name, I was just very excited. It was an amazing experience."

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