‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now?

‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now?

America is known as the land of opportunity — where you can achieve your dreams with a little luck and a lot of hard work. No show portrays this better than reality giant, American Idol. But it begs the question: Once you’ve been crowned the winner, what’s next? Let’s take a look at the Idol champs and where their careers have gone after their big win.

Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)

Clarkson was the first Idol winner, and she’s become an icon. She’s received multiple awards, including three Grammys, seven Emmys and a star on the Walk of Fame. She’s sold over 25 million albums and 45 million singles worldwide. She’s also hosted The Voice and her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Ruben Studdard (Season 2)

Following his win, Studdard was nominated for a Grammy. Of his eight albums, two have gone platinum. He also starred in Ain’t Misbehavin’ and performed on Broadway with Idol runner-up Clay Aiken. In 2023, Studdard and Aiken reunited for their 20th anniversary of Idol.

Fantasia Barrino (Season 3)

Since her win, Barrino’s released three albums. She has two Billboard Music Awards and a Grammy, and she’s been nominated for a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and three AMAs. Barrino wrote her bestselling autobiography and starred in the TV movie adaptation. She also starred in Broadway’s The Color Purple and the film adaptation.

Carrie Underwood (Season 4)

A household name, Underwood’s won 142 awards, including 8 Grammys, sold 85 million records and been inducted into the Walk of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. Rolling Stone named her “the female vocalist of her generation in any genre,” Time included her as one of the 100 most influential people and Forbes declared her the most successful Idol winner. Underwood released an athleisure line and wrote a bestselling fitness book.

Taylor Hicks (Season 5)

In 2006, Hicks released his debut album. He later toured with the Broadway production, Grease, and he’s the first Idol winner to secure a long-term Vegas residency.

Jordin Sparks (Season 6)

Sparks became the youngest winner in the series’ history, and her debut album went platinum. She’s received multiple awards, and VH1 listed her as 92nd on its “100 Greatest Women in Music.” She’s sold 10.2 million singles, making her one of the most successful contestants of all time. She also starred in Broadway’s In the Heights and the movie Sparkle.

David Cook (Season 7)

Post-Idol, Cook’s debut album went platinum and featured two Top 20 singles. Cook released a second studio album and later released his second EP, Chromance, which entered the U.S. Indie charts at No. 5.

Kris Allen (Season 8)

Allen’s Idol coronation song, No Boundaries, made Top 20. His post-Idol self-titled album debuted at No. 11. The album’s lead single, Live Like We’re Dying, peaked at No. 18 with a combined sale of over 1.7 million. Since then, he’s released five albums.

Lee DeWyze (Season 9)

DeWyze’s first post-Idol album, Live It Up, was released in 2010, and then he released an album of pre-Idol recordings in 2012. He’s since released four more albums.

Scotty McCreery (Season 10)

McCreery’s debut album went platinum and included two top-charting songs. Later, McCreery released a holiday album, and his single, See You Tonight, was his first to reach top 10 on Billboard’s Country charts. His fourth album, Seasons Change became his fourth top 10 album.

Phillip Phillips (Season 11)

Phillips’s song, Home, became the bestselling song in Idol history. His debut album was on the Top 200 chart for 61 weeks and went platinum. He’s performed with John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw, the Goo Goo Dolls and Bruce Springsteen. He’s sold over 7.8 million singles, 3 million albums and 1.1 billion on-demand streams.

Candice Glover (Season 12)

After auditioning three times, Glover won her season. She released her debut album and was later cast in the Hallmark movie Northpole. She debuted on Broadway in the musical Home for the Holidays, and appeared in the series G.R.I.T.S.

Caleb Johnson (Season 13)

Johnson released his debut album Testify. He’s been part of a Meat Loaf tribute tour, and he’s worked with A-listers KISS, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and Black Stone Cherry.

Nick Fradiani (Season 14)

Fradiani released his album, Hurricane, in 2016. He subsequently released a six-song EP, and he’s currently on Broadway playing Neil Diamond in the musical, A Beautiful Noise.

Trent Harmon (Season 15)

In 2016, Harmon released his self-titled EP, which features his Top 30 hit There’s a Girl. He’s recently toured with Rascal Flatts and Dan + Shay, and he’s also found success as a songwriter.

Maddie Poppe (Season 16)

Poppe released her first album, which featured two hit singles. She’s toured with Ingrid Michaelson and released a holiday EP. In 2022, Poppe released her single One That Got Away, and the music video featured runner-up, Caleb Hutchinson.

Laine Hardy (Season 17)

Following Hardy’s win, he has released eight singles. He’s performed on The View and at the 2020 National Tree Lighting Ceremony. Hardy’s single Memorize You gained popularity after his performance on ABC’s The Bachelor.

Just Sam (Season 18)

After winning, Just Sam released two singles. Then in 2023, they revealed that they returned to busking in subway trains. Rapper Lil Durk and producer/rapper Timbaland offered support to Just Sam, with the latter featuring Just Sam performing live on his TikTok page.

Chayce Beckham (Season 19)

Beckham’s original song, 23, debuted on the charts at 71. By 2022, Beckham received 60 million streams. He also released a few singles and his six-track debut EP, Doin’ It Right. In 2023, Beckham toured with Idol judge Luke Bryan.

Noah Thompson (Season 20)

Thompson released his album, Middle of God Knows Where, that featured a few hit singles. The album hit Top 10 on Apple Music’s country albums chart, and his singles continue to rack up on-demand streams. He also recently toured with runner-up HunterGirl.

Iam Tongi (Season 21)

Tongi ushered in a series of firsts for the show. He was the first Idol winner to be born after the show’s premiere, the first Pacific Islander to take the crown and the first non-country singer to win in the past three years. Since his victory, he went on tour and sang the National Anthem at the 2023 Home Run Derby. 

Watch ‘American Idol’ Season 22 on February 18, 2024

Who will next join this list of music legends? Tune in to ABC on DIRECTV to watch the 22nd season of American Idol. Catch up on previous seasons now

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