'American Idol' Winners: Where Are They Now?
Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)
THEN: Kelly Clarkson edged out runner-up Justin Guarini on Sept. 4, 2002 to become the very first winner of American Idol. The Texas native joined the show to pursue a career in music, taking the winning title at the age of 20. She wrapped the finale with a famed performance of her debut single, "A Moment Like This."
NOW: One of the most successful American Idol alums, Clarkson quickly became a star when the cameras stopped rolling. She dropped her debut album Thankful in April 2003, led by the hit single "Miss Independent." Clarkson followed up soon after with the sophomore effort Breakaway, achieving multiplatinum status. The star won her first Grammy awards thanks to Breakaway, taking home Best Pop Vocal Album as well as Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Since U Been Gone." Clarkson went on to release five more studio albums, including 2015's Piece by Piece, performed at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, and had her first child, daughter River Rose, with husband Brandon Blackstock.
Ruben Studdard (Season 2)
THEN: Following in the massive footsteps of Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard won American Idol's second season on May 21, 2003. Living in Alabama at the time, Studdard auditioned for the singing competition in Nashville, Tenn. He famously beat out runner-up Clay Aiken in the season finale, performing his debut single "Flying Without Wings" after he accepted the crown.
NOW: Studdard followed his win with the release of his debut album Soulful just six months later. Led by the singles "Superstar" and "Sorry 2004," the album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 — his most successful effort to date. Studdard released five albums since, including 2014's Unconditional Love, and found himself back on TV in 2013 when he joined The Biggest Loser.
Fantasia Barrino (Season 3)
THEN: On May 26, 2004, Fantasia Barrino became the third American Idol. The young mother from North Carolina took home the title at the age of 20. While Barrino beat runner-up Diana DeGarmo in the season finale, she is perhaps most famous for taking the title over future Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, who placed seventh. Barrino celebrated her win with a performance of "I Believe," the track that would become her debut single.
NOW: Led by "I Believe," Barrino's debut studio album Free Yourself arrived in stores in November 2004, including collaborations with Missy Elliott and the single "Truth Is." She went on to release three additional studio albums, the most recent being 2013's Side Effects of You, and expanded to an acting career. She played herself in the Lifetime movie The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, and hit the stage for performances of The Color Purple and After Midnight.
Carrie Underwood (Season 4)
THEN: Carrie Underwood officially became a star on May 25, 2005, when she won the fourth season of American Idol. The Oklahoma native auditioned for the show in St. Louis, finally beating Bo Bice in the last episode months later. Underwood performed "Inside Your Heaven" as a part of the final competition, releasing the track as her debut single.
NOW: While "Inside Your Heaven" performed well for Underwood, she saw even greater success just a few months later with the release of "Jesus, Take the Wheel." The track introduced Underwood's debut November 2005 album Some Hearts, which was certified multiplatinum. The star's career continued to grow from there with the release of four studio albums, most recently 2015's Storyteller. She earned seven Grammy Awards during this time, including Best New Artist in 2007, and Best Country Solo Performance for both "Blown Away" and "Something in the Water." Underwood, who married hockey player Mike Fisher in 2010, has also tried her hand at acting, famously playing Maria von Trapp in NBC's 2013 production of The Sound of Music Live!
Taylor Hicks (Season 5)
THEN: Taylor Hicks became the fifth winner of American Idol on May 24, 2006. The then-29-year-old edged out Katharine McPhee in the season finale, after previously making it through past Chris Daughtry and Kellie Pickler. Hicks performed "Do I Make You Proud," in the season finale, releasing the track as his debut single.
NOW: Hicks, who previously released his own music independently, dropped his first post-AI album, the self-titled Taylor Hicks, in December 2006. The record, which included "Just to Feel That Way" and "Heaven Knows," hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Hicks has released just one studio album since then, 2009's The Distance. Outside of his recording career, Hicks played Teen Angel in a late 2000s production of Grease, and did a stint with a residency in Las Vegas.
Jordin Sparks (Season 6)
THEN: Jordin Sparks was named American Idol on May 23, 2007, during the show's sixth season. Just 17 years old at the time of her win, Sparks beat Blake Lewis in the season finale. Sparks was hardly a stranger to competition at the time, having previously appeared on America's Most Talented Kid and vying for titles in local Arizona contests. She performed "This Is My Now," which would become her debut single, at the finale.
NOW: Sparks dropped her first album, November 2007's Jordin Sparks, soon after. The record was a commercial success and included the singles "Tattoo" and "No Air." Sparks climbed the charts with her sophomore album Battlefield in 2009, also performing at President Barack Obama's Inaugural Ball the same year. She took a hiatus from releasing music soon after, appearing in the 2012 movie Sparkle and making TV cameos during that time, as well as making an appearance on Broadway. She returned to the mic in 2015, dropping her third album Right Here, Right Now, led by the 2 Chainz-assisted single "Double Tap."
David Cook (Season 7)
THEN: American Idol's seventh season went to David Cook, who took home the title on May 21, 2008. The Texas native, who auditioned in Omaha, Neb., beat competitor David Archuleta in the season finale. Cook took his victory lap to Regie Hamm's "The Time of My Life," the winner of Idol's songwriting competition.
NOW: Cook, who had previously released an independent album Analog Heart, followed his American Idol win with the debut of the self-titled David Cook in November 2008. Led by the single "Light On," the album hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200. He went on to release two more albums, including 2015's Digital Vein, but fell short of the commercial success he saw with his first effort. He married his longtime girlfriend Rachael Stump in 2015, and continued to record with his band Midwest Kings in recent years.
Kris Allen (Season 8)
THEN: Kris Allen was named American Idol as the show's eighth season came to a close on May 20, 2009. The Arkansas native, who began playing music at a young age, auditioned for Idol in Louisville, Ky. He made it all the way to the final round, beating out Adam Lambert in the season's last episode. Allen and Lambert both performed the single "No Boundaries" during the finale, which each singer's version released as his debut single.
NOW: Allen found greater success with his sophomore single "Live Like We're Dying," released in September 2009 off of his studio album Kris Allen. The self-titled project also included the Pat Monahan-assisted "The Truth" and was succeeded by two studio albums from Allen. He dropped another record, Letting You In, in March 2016. In addition to his music career, Allen welcomed two children with his wife Katy.
Lee DeWyze (Season 9)
THEN: Lee DeWyze became the ninth American Idol on May 26, 2010. The Illinois native, who previously eyed a music career with an independent label, found his way onto the singing show through an audition in Chicago. He beat out competitor Crystal Bowersox in the season finale. DeWyze went out with a performance of his debut single, which was a cover of U2's "Beautiful Day."
NOW: The singer released his post-Idol debut album Live It Up with RCA in November 2010. The project included the singles "Sweet Serendipity" and "Beautiful Like You," but failed to crack the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart. DeWyze continued to record and married actress Jonna Walsh during this time. He released three subsequent albums, including a 2016 effort, Oil & Water.
Scotty McCreery (Season 10)
THEN: American Idol's 10th season went to then-17-year-old Scotty McCreery on May 25, 2011. The country crooner from North Carolina beat out Lauren Alaina in the season finale, having previously lasted longer in the competition than such performers as Pia Toscano, Haley Reinhart, and Casey Abrams. McCreery performed "I Love You This Big" for his final bow, releasing the track as his debut single.
NOW: The singer dropped his debut studio album Clear as Day soon after. The platinum-selling project, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 after its October 2011 release, included "I Love You This Big" as well as the sophomore single, "The Trouble with Girls." The following year, McCreery dropped a holiday album, going on to debut a third record, See You Tonight, in 2013. While the reality star was in the process of readying his next project — led by the single "Southern Belle" — he has since parted with his label, spending recent months penning his first book, Go Big or Go Home.
Phillip Phillips (Season 11)
THEN: Phillip Phillips edged out Jessica Sanchez in American Idol's 11th season to win the title on May 23, 2012. Phillips auditioned for the show in Savannah, Ga., making it through the rounds without finding himself in the bottom three. He debuted his single "Home" in the season finale, watching the track go multiplatinum.
NOW: His biggest chart success to date, "Home" led Phillips' debut studio album, The World from the Side of the Moon. Released in November 2012, the project hit No. 4 on the Billboard 200, also including the track "Gone, Gone, Gone." The singer dropped his sophomore album Behind the Light in 2014, introducing the project with the single "Raging Fire." Phillips, who married his girlfriend Hannah in 2015, hasn't released music since as he reportedly filed a lawsuit against his label in 2015.
Candice Glover (Season 12)
THEN: On May 16, 2013, Candice Glover became the 12th winner of American Idol. The South Carolina native went out for the show in Charlotte, NC, finally making it on after two previous auditions. She beat out Kree Harrison in the season finale, performing the track "I Am Beautiful." The song would go on to become Glover's debut promotional single.
NOW: Glover dropped her debut studio album Music Speaks in February 2014, nearly a year after her Idol win. The project peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard 200, and included the follow-up single "Cried." Glover hyped new music in 2015, but has yet to make an official announcement. She continues to perform, largely playing private events and trying her hand at acting for the stage.
Caleb Johnson (Season 13)
THEN: The title of American Idol went to Caleb Johnson in the show's 13th season. The North Carolina native took the crown on May 21, 2014, edging out Jena Irene in the finale. Johnson performed "As Long as You Love Me" during the last episode, releasing the track as his debut single.
NOW: Just two months after his win, Johnson dropped his debut studio album Testify. The 10-track record included "As Long as You Love Me" in addition to the singles "Only One" and "Fighting Gravity." The album could not reach the same level of success of previous Idol debuts, peaking at No. 24 on the Billboard 200. He has since been readying a new EP, to be led by the single "Holding On," due out in 2016.
Nick Fradiani (Season 14)
THEN: On May 13, 2015, Nick Fradiani became the winner of American Idol's 14th season. Edging out Clark Beckham in the finale, Fradiani performed the single "Beautiful Life," which would become his first official release after Idol.
NOW: "Beautiful Life" hit No. 93 on the Billboard Hot 100 and teased what's to come from his first album post-Idol. Fradiani previously released records as a part of the band Beach Avenue. While the singer has yet to announce a release date or title for the project, he teased his next single, "Get You Home," which is due out on March 11.