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American Idol Finalists Who are Christian

Those AI'ers who got their starts in Christian Music

By

Danny Gokey (Season 8)

Danny Gokey - promo 2010
RCA - Photo Credit: Andrew Southam

Danny Gokey came to American Idol's 8th season as a church music director from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His story about losing his wife Sophie a mere month before his audition won the hearts of America and his talent and humble spirit took him deeper in. He finished the season as the third place finalist.

In 2009, Gokey signed with 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville and released My Best Days, a country album. He was nominated a year later as the Best New/Breakthrough Artist at the first annual American Country Awards but lost out to Easton Corbin.

Kris Allen (Season 8)

Kris Allen
Charley Gallay / Getty Images

Kris Allen took the season 8 Idol title in 2009. A member of the worship ministry at New Life Church in his hometown of Conway, Arkansas, he was signed to Jive Records after the season was over and his debut album released in 2009.

Matt Giraud (Season 8)

Matt Giraud
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Matt Giraud came to American Idol's 8th season as a church musician who had released two indie CDs. His Idol story ended on April 29th.

Michael Sarver (Season 8)

Michael Sarver
Kevin Winter / Getty Images

The Louisiana native who calls Jasper, Texas home started writing songs at the age of 14. Three years later, he learned to play guitar and those skills helped him lead worship at Harvest Church in Jasper.

Michael's time on AI came to an end of March 26th, but his music career was just getting started. He is signed to Dream Records, a Universal Music Group affiliated independent label run by the Dream Center in Los Angeles, a non-profit outreach dedicated to helping inner-cities.

Scott MacIntyre (Season 8)

Scott MacIntyre
Scott MacIntyre

As the first blind finalist on American Idol, Scott MacIntrye had a lifetime of experience in doing what others would consider out of the question. After studying music at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto as a child, his family moved back to the US and he was homeschooled until being accepted at Arizona State University's Barrett Honors College and Herberger College of Fine Arts at the age of 14. In 2005, he received the prestigious Marshall and UK Fulbright scholarships and was ranked by USA Today as one of the top twenty undergraduate seniors in the nation. At 19, he graduated ASU Summa Cum Laude, and went on to receive a masters degree from Royal Holloway, University of London and the Royal College of Music in England.

Jason Castro (Season 7)

Jason Castro - Who I Am
Atlantic

Season 7 delivered Texan Jason Castro. Though his faith was not played up in the show, it was always there with him. He finished the show with a third-place runner-up finish and signed with Atlantic Records. His self-titled, mainstream debut came out in 2009. A second release on Atlantic followed a year later with five of the eight songs making a reappearance. The difference (aside from five new songs) is that Who Am I released to the Christian market. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, Jason said that his plan did not include a Christian release, but the songs he wrote expressed a time in his life when he had a yearning for God. He explained, saying, "I was so tired all the time, I didn’t even have the energy to reach out to God, and I started having this longing for more God in my life. And I wanted more God in my music. Everyday, I can count on connecting with him there."

Chris Sligh (Season 6)

Chris Sligh at American Idol's Annual Top 12 Party - 2007
Michael Buckner / Getty Images
Prior to American Idol's sixth season, Chris Sligh was no stranger to music or the church. The son of a military chaplain, Chris began his love affair with music in high school. College was pre-law at Pensacola Christian College until he transferred to Bob Jones University to get a degree in music in his sophomore year. He excelled musically to such an extent that he was invited to audition both for The Juilliard School and the Metropolitan Opera in New York but those kudos didn't keep him from getting expelled during his senior year when he was caught attending a Christian rock concert.

 

Jordin Sparks (Season 6)

Jordin Sparks
2007 Getty Images
Jordin Sparks took the season 6 Idol title in 2007. She came to the show as the “Overall Spotlight Winner” for the GMA Academy in 2004 and with experience touring as a background singer with Michael W. Smith.


After Idol, Jordin signed with Jive Records and hit the Pop charts hard. Though her songs are more wholesome than religious, she herself is both and she embraces the challenges of being a Christian in a secular world.

She explained during an interview with 'Everyday Christian.' "My faith has been a humungous part of how I have looked at my career. I started out singing in church very young and it took off from there. With my purity stance, I'm very careful about what I wear and the lyrics in my songs.

 

Lakisha Jones (Season 6)

Lakisha Jones 2007 - at the Entertainment Weekly And Vavoom's Upfront Party
Evan Agostini / Getty Images
At the age of five, Lakisha Jones started singing at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in her hometown of Flint, Michigan. From there it was on to singing with the award-winning Madrigal Singers of Flint's Central High School followed by a degree in music from University of Michigan-Flint. After a move to Houston, Jones worked at Abundant Life Cathedral and sang in their 70-member choir for six years.


After leaving Idol in the fourth spot on May 9th and the Idol tour, Lakisha didn't sit idle long. She joined the cast of 'The Color Purple' on Broadway as the Church Soloist and as Sofia during the matinee performances.

Jones' debut album, So Glad I'm Me has a release date of May 19, 2009.

 

Melinda Doolittle (Season 6)

Melinda Doolittle - 2009 American Stars in Concert - The Spring Break Tour
Kevin Winter / Getty Images
No one who heard season six'er Melinda Doolittle sing on American Idol would believe that she was tone deaf all the way up until 7th grade and was regularly told by her chorus teacher to "just mouth the words," but she was. Eventually the music major from Belmont University overcame it so much that she worked as a professional back-up singer for artists like Aaron Neville, Anointed, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Alabama, Jonny Lang, Michael McDonald and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Then came American Idol ...


The third place finalist signed with independent label Hi Fi Recordings in the summer of 2008 and released her debut CD, Coming Back to You on February 3, 2009.

 

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