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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 8

'American Idol' reveals the eighth season's Top 36 semifinalists


By John Bracchitta, 02/12/2009 

After three weeks of open audition broadcasts and two more weeks of episodes that gave viewers a look at the competition's Hollywood Round, last night's American Idol eighth-season broadcast ended with the mega-hit Fox reality show finally revealing the identities of this season's Top 36 semifinalists.

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Eight of Idol's eighth-season Top 36 semifinalists -- which had already leaked online two weeks ago -- are teenagers, a lower percentage than last season's Top 24 semifinalists group that was one third teenagers.  More than one third of the semifinalists are 25-years-old or older, which is more than double the percentage of the seventh season's semifinalist group.

Although Wednesday night's American Idol broadcast showed her advancing to the competition's semifinals, Joanna Pacitti will not be part of the semifinals after all.

Late last night, Fox announced that the controversial American Idol contestant has been disqualified from the show's eighth season competition.

"It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition," the network stated in an announcement released shortly after the conclusion of the West Coast broadcast of American Idol's pre-filmed "Final Judgement" episode.

Pacitti will be replaced in the Top 36 by Felicia Barton, a 26-year-old wife and mother from Virginia Beach, VA.

Fox's statement didn't specify why Pacitti, an unemployed 23-year-old who is originally from Philadelphia, PA, was deemed to be ineligible and a network spokesperson was not immediately reachable for comment. 

Idol's eighth season is the first season to ever feature 36 semifinalists and the first season since the show's 2004 third season to utilize a "Wild Card" semifinals round. Idol had previously featured 24 semifinalists since its fourth season in 2005.  Prior to that, Idol's second and third seasons had featured 32 semifinalists while its first season had featured 30 semifinalists.

Now that the semifinalists have been revealed, they will be grouped into three groups of twelve and perform during two-hour pre-taped Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT performance episodes for the next three weeks. The results of each round's home viewer voting will then be revealed during live one-hour results shows airing Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT. 

At the conclusion of each results show, the male and female semifinalists who received the highest number of home viewers votes for their previous night's performance will instantly become a Top 12 finalist.  In addition, another semifinalist that had received the next-highest number of votes after the performance episode -- regardless of whether he or she is male or female -- will also become a finalist.

Then on Thursday, March 5, Fox will air a special "Wild Card" performance episode in which each semifinalist group's highest remaining votegetter who didn't already automatically advance to the finals will get a second chance to perform along with several additional semifinalists that the judges will select.

After all the "Wild Card" semifinalists perform, the judges -- not the show's home viewers -- will immediately select three of them to complete the season's twelve finalists.

American Idol's 18 eighth-season female semifinalists -- and their Fox-released biographical information -- are:

Alexis Grace, a 21-year-old from Memphis, TN

Grace has been singing since she was 7 years old. She was a member of the Concert Choir at the University of Memphis, and enjoys dancing, playing the guitar and taking care of her daughter.


Allison Iraheta, a 16-year-old from Los Angeles, CA who currently resides in Downey, CA
 
Iraheta is a junior in high school who began singing at age 5. She also enjoys playing the guitar.


Ann Marie Boskovich, a 22-year-old from Thousand Oaks, CA who currently resides in Nashville, TN
           
Currently pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter, Boskovich began singing before she could talk. She also plays guitar and piano.

 
Arianna Afsar, a 17-year-old from San Diego, CA

Afsar is a senior at Westview High School. She has been singing since she was 7 years old, and loves acting, dancing and playing piano.


Casey Carlson, a 20-year-old from Eden Prairie, MN who currently resides in Minneapolis, MN

Carlson is in her third year at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, majoring in Psychology. She began taking voice lessons in fifth grade.


Felicia Barton, a 26-year-old from Virginia Beach, VA

Barton lives in Virginia Beach, VA, with her husband and son. She began singing before she could talk, and her first public performance was at age 2.


Jackie Tohn, a 28-year-old from Oceanside, NY who currently lives in Silver Lake, CA

Tohn resides in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake. She holds an associate's degree in psychology from Santa Monica College. Her hobbies include acting, performing comedy and playing guitar.


Jasmine Murray, a 17-year-old from Columbus, MS who currently resides in Starkville, MS

Murray lives in Starkville, MS, and attends The Mississippi School of the Arts. She loves being on stage and has been singing since she was 3 years old.


Jeanine Vailes, a 28-year-old from Washington, DC who currently resides in Sherman Oaks, CA

A recent arrival to Los Angeles, Vailes began singing at age 4 and had her first solo performance in church at age 9. She also enjoys songwriting, motivational speaking and doing voiceover work.


Jesse Langseth, a 26-year-old from Minneapolis, MN

Langseth lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her 8-year-old daughter. In addition to singing, she also plays the piano and guitar.


Kendall Beard, a 24-year-old from Lufkin, TX who currently resides in Austin, TX.

Beard graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. In addition to singing, she has been studying dance for 12 years.


Kristen McNamara, a 23-year-old from Napa Valley, CA who currently resides in Nashville, TN

McNamara is a singer/songwriter originally from Northern California. She loves to dance and has been performing her whole life. Her hobbies include playing guitar, piano, painting and baking.


Lil Rounds, a 24-year-old from Memphis, TN

Rounds lives in Memphis, TN, with her husband and three children. Music has always been a part of her life, and she began singing when she was 3 years old.


Megan Corkrey, a 23-year-old from Taylorsville, UT who currently resides in Sandy, UT

Corkrey lives in Sandy, UT, with her 2-year-old son, Ryder. She has been singing since age 3, and is a self-professed "foodie."


Mishavonna Henson, an 18-year-old from Irvine, CA
 
Henson has been singing since she could talk and sang publicly for the first time in church. Her hobbies include horseback riding, acting, dancing and playing piano and guitar. She also takes classes at a junior college.


Stevie Wright, a 17-year-old from Phelan, CA

Wright is a junior at Serrano High School. She works in a coffee shop and sings in a band with her youth group. Her real passion is singing, but she also loves to dance.


Tatiana Nicole Del Toro, a 24-year-old from San Juan, PR who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA

Del Toro studied at the Manhattan School of Music and attended the New York Film Academy. Her hobbies include theater, acting, writing and dancing.


Taylor Vaifanua, a 17-year-old from Hurricane, UT

When Vaifanua was 2 years old, she and her family moved to Samoa and lived there for five years before returning to Utah. She is a junior at Hurricane High School, and her hobbies include sports, singing and dancing.

 
American Idol's 18 eighth-season male semifinalists -- and their Fox-released biographical information -- are:


Adam Lambert, a 26-year-old from San Diego, CA who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA

Lambert grew up in San Diego but currently lives in Hollywood. He began singing at age 10, and has been involved with musical theater for the past eight years.


Alexander Wagner-Trugman, a 19-year-old from Studio City, CA

Wagner-Trugman is a sophomore at the University of Miami. He began singing in high school, and he plays piano and guitar. His hobbies include playing video games and basketball.


Anoop Desai, a 22-year-old from Chapel Hill, NC

Desai is working on his master's degree at the University of North Carolina. During his undergraduate years, he was a member of the UNC Clef Hangers, an a cappella group.


Brent Keith, a 29-year-old from Blanchester, OH  who currently resides in Nashville, TN

A guitar player, Keith lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife. He has been singing all his life but started performing publicly when he was 13 years old.


Danny Gokey, a 28-year-old from Milwaukee, WI

Gokey is the president and founder of a non-profit organization. In addition to singing, he plays the piano and loves salsa dancing.


Jorge Nunez, a 21-year-old from Cidra, Puerto Rico who currently resides in Carolina, PR

Nunez is in his fourth year at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras. In addition to English and Spanish, Nunez is also fluent in French.


Ju'Not Joyner, a 26-year-old from Baltimore, MD who currently resides in Bowie, MD 

A native of Maryland, Joyner owns his own business with his fiancee. He enjoys acting, comedy and songwriting.


Kai Kalama, a 27-year-old from Redlands, CA who currently resides in San Clemente, CA

Kalama began singing when he was 5 years old at his church. An accomplished musician, he also plays guitar, ukulele, bass, piano and drums.


Kris Allen, a 23-year-old from Jacksonville, AR who currently resides in Conway, AR

Allen is a student at the University of Central Arkansas. He has been singing and playing the guitar since he was 13 years old.


Matt Breitzke, a 28-year-old from Bixby, OK

Breitzke spent his childhood in Hobart, IN, and later attended flight school in Tulsa, OK.  He has been singing and playing the guitar since the fifth grade.


Matt Giraud, a 23-year-old from Ypsilanti, MI who currently resides in Kalamazoo, MI 
   
Giraud is a life-long resident of Michigan who graduated from Western Michigan University in 2007. He sings and plays piano in local clubs and hotels.


Michael Sarver, a 27-year-old from Jasper, TX

Sarver is married with two children and works on an oil rig. He has always dreamed of being a singer/songwriter. Sarver also plays the piano, drums and guitar.


Nathaniel Marshall, a 19-year-old from Malone, NY

Marshall began singing at age 2, and sang publicly for the first time in his high school choir. He is a cosmetology student in New York.


Nick Mitchell, a 27-year-old from Brookfield, CT

Mitchell attended Marymount Manhattan College and Western Connecticut State University. He is a sketch comedian who performs in Manhattan and Connecticut.


Ricky Braddy, a 25-year-old from Nashville, TN who currently resides in Elizabeth City, NC

Braddy graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, TN, with a degree in Commercial Vocal Performance. He began singing when he was 4 years old at his church.


Scott MacIntyre, a 23-year-old from Scottsdale, AZ 

MacIntyre earned his bachelor's degree from Arizona State University at age 19, and attended graduate school in London, England. He also plays piano, guitar and drums.


Stephen Fowler, a 26-year-old from Cleveland, OH who currently resides in Beachwood, OH

Fowler has been married for six years and has two sons. He has been singing his entire life, and began playing piano at 11 years old. He is a full-time musician who teaches piano at the Rainey Institute in Cleveland.


Von Smith, a 22-year-old from Kansas City, MO who currently resides in Greenwood, MO

Smith plays piano and is fluent in Spanish. His other hobbies include dancing, acting and songwriting. 

(Photo credit Fox)


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