Sunday, October 2, 2011

#96 Diana DeGarmo

Next on my American Idol finalist countdown is Diano DeGarmo. She lost the finale to Fantasia Barrino on American Idol season 3 with a 2% margin. I have not known much about her. Her music genres are pop and country. She was an early favorite of American Idol season 3. On May 31, 2010, the Los Angeles Times ranked her at number 24 on the ultimate American Idol power rankings list.

Diana Nicole DeGarmo was born in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 16, 1987. She was raised mainly in Snellville, Georgia. She attended Crews Middle School. She was a junior at Shiloh High School in Snellville, Georgia, at the time of her stint on American Idol. She began to sing publicly during her childhood, including the 1997 Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards and in broadway productions of Annie and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in Atlanta, Georgia. When she was in the third grade, she was a Coca-Cola kid during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1997, she sang at Opryland USA, the amusement which opened on May 27, 1972, but closed on December 31, 1997, and was replaced with a shopping mall, during the Christmas holiday season. Opryland's former site was flooded during the last days of American Idol season 9. In 2002, before the inception of American Idol, DeGarmo was named Miss Teen Georgia and was a finalist on the NBC talent competition show called America's Most Talented Kid. At the age of ten, she was a member of Cartoon Network's Cartoon Gang and appeared on various segments for the network, discussing cartoons.  She also appeared in various telefilms during her childhood. DeGarmo is a niece of Eddie DeGarmo of DeGarmo & Key, a Christian rock band that started professional in 1978.

DeGarmo auditioned for American Idol season 3 in Atlanta, Georgia. She finished in second place after a tight race against winner Fantasia Barrino, and also in her semifinal group was Jennifer Hudson, who advanced via Wild Card. She was known for her ability to perform songs easily at such an early age. She started off as the first contestant to take the stage in the semifinals, performing "I've Got the Music in Me" by Kiki Dee, and she was the second to be voted into the semifinals, after eventual winner Fantasia Barrino. However, DeGarmo landed in the bottom 3 during top 11, top 9, and top 8 weeks, although she was the first of the bottom 3 on all three occasions to be cleared for another week in the competition. Ironically, she never landed in the bottom 2, despite being the third lowest vote getter three times. On top 12 week, she performed "Think" by Aretha Franklin. On top 11 week, she performed "A Broken Wing" by Martina McBride and landed in the bottom 3 with the second lowest vote-getter Camile Velasco and the eliminated finalist Matthew Rogers, whom I ranked at number 109. On top 10 week, she performed "Do You Love Me" by The Contours. On top 9 week, she performed "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John, which would later be performed by Naima Adedapo on American Idol season 10. That week, she was in the bottom 3 with the second lowest vote getter Jasmine Trias and Camile Velasco who got eliminated that night. On top 8 week, she performed "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion from the 1997 film Titanic. Once again she landed in the bottom 3, this time with the second lowest vote getter John Stevens and the eliminated finalist Jon Peter Lewis.

After top 8 week, DeGarmo never landed in the bottom 3 again, and she went from zero to hero. On top 7 week, she performed "One Voice" by Barry Manilow. On top 6 week, she performed "Turn the Beat the Around" by Vicky Sue Robinson. On top 5 week, she performed "Someone to Watch Over Me" by Gertrude Lawrence and "Get Happy" by Ruth Etting. On top 4 week, she performed "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton and "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)" by Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand. On top 3, she elected to perform "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell. Then the judges had her perform "Because You Love Me" by Celine Dion. Then Clive Davis had her perform "Don't Cry Out Loud" by The Moments. On top 2 week, DeGarmo performed the winner's singer "I Believe". The she did an encore of her second top 4 week performance and an encore of her last top 3 performance. By a 2% margin, she lost the finale to Fantasia Barrino.

Soon after her stint on American Idol, DeGarmo was signed to RCA Records/19 Records, and she released the single "Dreams", on June 29, 2004. The song was co-written by Chris Braide, who also co-wrote "This Is the Night" for the previous season's American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken.  It includes two other songs: her version of "I Believe", written by American Idol season 1 finalist Tamyra Gray, and a cover of "Don't Cry Out Loud", originally recorded by Melissa Manchester. She participated in the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2004 alongside the rest of her season's top 10, which included a show held in Singapore in October 2004.

DeGarmo's debut album, titled Blue Skies,  was released on December 7, 2004, to opening week sales of 47,000. The album debuted at #52 on the Billboard chart. The album had sold 168,000 copies as of October 2008. Her single "Emotional"--again co-written by Chris Braide, Desmond Child and Andreas Carlsson—peaked at #54 on the Mediabase Pop Chart. In 2005, she toured independently to promote her debut album and was featured on the soundtrack for the Disney film Ice Princess, recording "Reaching for Heaven", written by Desmond Child. RCA dropped her from her recording contract in June 2005.

DeGarmo began recording a pop/R&B album in 2007, however she backed out of the project after it took a detour she did not want to take. After appearing on the first season of CMT's (Country Music Television) Gone Country in late 2007, she elected to return to her country roots and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee. Mikalah Gordon from American Idol season 4 appeared on the second season of that show and Justin Guarini from American Idol season 1 appeared on the third season of the show. She signed to John Rich's production company and recorded a country demo with him in 2008.  In early 2009, DeGarmo released an acoustic EP entitled "Unplugged in Nashville". The EP contains 4 songs co-written by DeGarmo and is currently available at her live shows and at online retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, etc. One of the songs, "Thank You", can be streamed from DeGarmo's MySpace page. The EP serves as a taste of what is to come from DeGarmo on her second full length album. DeGarmo continues to co-write and perform new songs at live shows in and around the Nashville area. In October 2010, DeGarmo released two new songs titled "Things That Drive a Girl Crazy" and "All Over Again".

DeGarmo is a proud supporter of US troops and participated in a USO tour in December 2005-January 2006. She entertained troops in Southwest Asia on a tour hosted by General Peter Pace. Her song "Thank You" is inspired by this trip. She also supports and performs in fundraisers for a number of charitable organizations both nationally and locally, including Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. In late 2007 and during the time of American Idol season 7, she participated as a Southern celebrity in television advertisements for the Zaxby's restaurant chain. She also appeared as a guest voice on the "Fairy Idol" episode of The Fairly OddParents as Cosmo after Cosmo watches "How to Sing Like Diana DeGarmo".

Next up on my American Idol finalist countdown is my number 95 American Idol finalist. He was born in the town where Paul McDonald was raised. His parents divorced when he was very young, and his mother remarried years later. He was raised by his mother and stepfather. On May 31, 2010, the Los Angeles Times ranked him at number 17 on the ultimate American Idol power rankings list. He was the first celebrity to win the grand prize on the syndicated version of Don't Forget the Lyrics!. He donated the winnings to his charity, MusicCares. His third studio album is simply called "3".

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