'American Idol 7' wraps audition rounds, reveals Top 24 semifinalists
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/14/2008
After four weeks of open audition broadcasts and two more episodes that gave viewers a look at the competition's Hollywood Round, last night's American Idol seventh-season broadcast ended with the mega-hit Fox reality show finally revealing the identities of this season's Top 24 semifinalists.
Twenty members of Idol's seventh-season Top 24 group are 25-years-old or younger -- a marked difference from last year when half of the sixth season's 24 semifinalists were 25 or older. (Despite that, 17-year-old Jordin Sparks became the youngest Idol winner ever). One third of Idol's seventh-season semifinalists are teenagers, including the first 16-year-old since 2006's fifth season.
With the selection broadcasts now finally over, American Idol 7's weekly performance shows will now begin the three-week process in which home viewers will determine the identities of the show's Top 12 finalists.
Using the same Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday broadcast schedule that the show's last two installments utilized, American Idol 7's 12 male semifinalists will perform in a special two-hour broadcast on Tuesday, February 19, after which the show's viewers will finally receive their own chance to cast votes for their seventh-season favorites.
Idol 7's 12 female semifinalists will follow with another two-hour performance show on Wednesday night, after which Fox will air a special Thursday 8-9PM ET/PT live results show -- a move that will pit the broadcast against CBS' Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites -- that will eliminate two men and two women from the competition.
The following two weeks will continue the same thrice-weekly format (with the performance shows shrinking to 90-minutes and then 60-minutes as additional semifinalists are cut), and end with a live one-hour results show broadcast on Thursday, March 6 at 8PM ET/PT that will reveal American Idol 7's Top 12 finalists.
Once the finals begin, American Idol 7 performance shows will air Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT and one-hour results shows will be broadcast Wednesdays at 9PM ET/PT. In addition, Fox also announced American Idol 7 will air a special one-hour results show broadcast on Thursday, April 10 at 9PM ET/PT due to the network's previously announced decision to air a special two-hour Idol Gives Back charity event on Wednesday, April 9 at 8PM ET/PT.
American Idol 7's 12 male semifinalists -- and their Fox-released biographical information -- are:
Berry is a senior at Wilson Memorial High School. He began singing in church when he was 5 years old. Active in community theatre, he also mentors children in a music class at a local elementary school.
Carrico began singing at age 16. He has been a member of two groups, Boyz IV Girlz and Missing Picket. Before auditioning for American Idol, he was working as a painter with his father. In his spare time, Carrico enjoys racing cars.
Castro, born in Dallas but raised in Rowlett, TX, grew up playing drums and played in a band called Keeping Lions. Before auditioning for American Idol, Castro was majoring in Construction Science at Texas A&M University.
David Cook, a 25-year-old from Blue Spings, MO who currently resides in Tulsa, OK
Cook was born in Houston and graduated from Central Missouri State University in 2006. He has been singing since he was in the 2nd grade and also plays the guitar. Cook was a member of two bands, Axium and MWK.
Eze began singing when he was 13 years old. Before auditioning for American Idol, he was a T.S.A. (Transportation Security Administration) screener and a cashier. He also studied singing at Santa Monica College.
Haley currently lives in Elida, OH, but spent his "early years" in Alamosa, CO. Haley is a junior at Elida High School. He began singing in elementary school and has performed in local talent shows and high school musicals.
Johns currently lives in Los Angeles, but was born in Perth, Australia. Johns moved to the U.S. in 1998 to attend Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College in Tifton, GA, then moved to Buckhead, GA outside of Atlanta to pursue singing. Johns began singing at the age of 5 and also plays the guitar. He was a member of a band called The Rising.
Menard began singing when he was a freshman in high school. He earned a B.A. in Communications from Millikin University in Decatur, IL, and worked for a finance company in Chicago. After realizing that was not the job for him, Menard began touring with an a cappella group called Chapter 6.
Noriega has been singing his entire life. Prior to auditioning for American Idol, Noriega had recently graduated from high school. In his spare time he likes to dance and make people laugh. He also loves animals.
Jason Yeager, a 28-year-old from Grand Prairie, TX who currently resides in Branson, MO
Yeager began singing when he was 2 years old. He was a member of a boy band called True This. He also plays guitar, piano and drums.
American Idol 7's 12 female semifinalists -- and their Fox-released biographical information -- are:
Joanne Borgella, a 25-year-old from New York, NY who currently resides in Hoboken, NJ
Borgella has been singing since she was 3 years old. Before auditioning for American Idol, she was a plus size model. In her spare time she makes jewelry and designs clothes.
Cook, born in Seattle, WA, has sung for crowds since she was 13 years old. Prior to auditioning for American Idol, Cook raised and trained horses. She plays the piano and was a member of the band Sixshooter.
Amy Davis, a 25-year-old from Lowell, IN who currently resides in Cedar Lake, IN
Davis is a graduate student at Purdue University where she previously earned a B.S. in Horticulture. She began singing for her family at age 5 and has since performed with numerous groups, including the Amy Davis Trio and Echoes of Pompeii, a Pink Floyd tribute band.
Epperson has been singing since she was 3 years old. Before American Idol, she was a waitress at two restaurants in Joplin. In her spare time, Epperson enjoys dancing and acting and also has a passion for makeup and fashion.
Lushington began singing in her grandfather's church when she was just 2 years old. She is currently a junior at Douglas County High School, where she sings in the school choir and is a member of the drama club. Lushington also plays the piano.
Malloy started singing as soon as she could talk. Before auditioning for American Idol, she was singing in local restaurants and attending community college. Malloy has a knack for vocal impressions and also plays the tambourine.
Malubay was born in Saudi Arabia and spent her early years in the Philippines. She has been singing since she was 12 years old. Before American Idol, she was attending school and was a hostess at a local sushi restaurant. She also plays the piano and guitar.
Syesha Mercado, a 21-year-old from Sarasota, FL who currently resides in Miami, FL
Mercado was a member of The Drum Studio All-Stars band and has a strong background in theatre and dancing. She began singing when she was 3 years old.
Smithson, born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, made her singing debut in "Les Miserables" at the Olympic Theatre in Dublin. Smithson moved to Los Angeles at age 13 to pursue her singing career. Before auditioning for American Idol, she was working in a bar and running a tattoo shop with her husband.