Jordin Sparks talks about being crowned 'American Idol's new champ
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/25/2007
Last summer 17-year-old Jordin Sparks said she was focused on getting her drivers' license, which happened just before she ventured from her native Glendale, AZ to Seattle, WA to audition for American Idol's sixth season.
"I was excited to get my drivers' license, but I was way more excited to do American Idol. I talked about it all the time," Sparks told reporters during a Friday conference call. ""Making it through the first round of the auditions... It amazed me because I didn't think I had a chance because so many people auditioned. When I made the Top 12 I was like, 'Whoa! I have a one in 12 chance of winning this thing.' I mean because it's better than the one in 16,000 [when I auditioned]... Your chances improve as you keep going through the competition... It turned out pretty well.
It actually turned out better than "well" for Sparks, who won Idol's sixth season title during Wednesday night's live two-hour season finale and in the process became the youngest singer to ever do so. She defeated Blake Lewis, a 25-year-old from Bothell, WA, in Idol 6's finale, but added she initially thought Lewis would be battling it out in the finals with Melinda Doolittle, a 29-year-old Brentwood, TN resident who finished third.
"I actually thought it was going to be Blake and Melinda, so I was just like, 'Oh... Cool!'" said Sparks about learning she had advanced to the finale. "But Melinda is one of my best friends ever and I love her to death and if I would have been up against her I would have been so happy if she won because she's so amazing. I just love her."
Sparks was billed as "The Great Singer" during Tuesday night's final performance episode of Idol's sixth season, and the beat-boxing Lewis was thought of as "The Great Entertainer."
"He's tried to teach me [to beat-box] but I'm really horrible at it," said Sparks. "I try, and sometime I entertain myself by trying to do it, but I can't do it."
Both Sparks and Lewis had previously stated that they're big fans of each other, so she said he was nothing but supportive when Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed she was the winner after 74 million votes were cast by viewers.
"[Lewis] just said, 'Congratulations honey.' He's been so great," said Sparks. "He's been one of my biggest supporters since the beginning and I've been one of his, so it's really cool I got to share the stage with him. I felt very honored."
"I look-up to them because I've been watching them the past couple years in their careers and have their records, and I would love to model my career after theirs' because they've been so successful," said Sparks, who described herself as a "diehard" Idol fan.
The grand prize for being crowned Idol's winner is a management contract with Idol creator Simon Fuller's 19 Management and a recording contract with a division of the BMG Music Group recording company headed by industry legend Clive Davis. Her first single will be "This Is My Now," a ballad written by Seattle residents Scott Krippayne and Jeff Peabody that wonAmerican Idol's sixth-season songwriting contest.
"It's actually so perfect because I remember sitting down when we got the song and I was listening to it and I couldn't believe how perfect it was. Just the total concept in general because it totally relates to what I've been dreaming about," said Sparks of "This Is My Now." "So it was just so perfect and I love singing it because it spoke to me that way... It's so crazy just talking about when there was a time when you didn't think you could do it but now you can. It's just so amazing, and hopefully [the fans] like it."
What the rest of Sparks' debut album will sound like could be anyone's guess, especially considering all of the types of music she said she's a fan of.
"I love all different types of genres of music, so I'd love to infuse everything into [an album]," said Sparks. "I love country. I love pop. I love R&B. I love rock 'n roll... So I would love to do a little bit of each but still make it so people can enjoy it. I hope they enjoy my little Jordin flare added to it!"
In addition to the recording contract, Sparks received a Ford Mustang for reaching the finale, a gift that was also awarded to Lewis.
"When we got it, I talked to Blake and I was like, 'Blake! What color do you want?' Because I wanted the red one," explained Sparks excitedly. "He goes, 'I want blue.' It was the first thing that came out of his mouth and I said, 'Yes!' because I got the red one. So he took the blue and I got the red, but I haven't seen it yet and I haven't been able to drive it yet. It's been kind of crazy."
While some people might consider Sparks' young age as a personal hindrance during her Idol run, she said it actually ended up being a positive.
"It's cool because since I am a minor, I have a guardian with me and so I had my mom or my nana -- because they would switch off -- I would have them with me throughout the season so it was cool to have them to lean on," she explained. "My family is just all so amazing and they've been so encouraging and have been supporting me since I told them I wanted to sing. It was so awesome seeing them in the audience [during the finale] and they deserve all the credit because they've been there pushing behind me 100%."
As a high-school student prior to her Idol journey, Sparks described herself as "just a normal kid" that liked to hang-out with friends as a "floater" who befriended others from multiple social cliques.
"I'm just a quirky 17-year-old!" she said.
Having been home-schooled for her sophomore and junior years of high school -- Sparks said she only completed her junior year on Thursday -- the day after being crowned Idol 6's winner. While she said she plans to graduate from high school, she's "really excited" about summer vacation, and is specifically looking forward to sleeping in her own bed, playing with her puppies, spending time with her best friends and reading a book.
"It's still kind of weird to me... I'm still getting used to it," she said, adding her last two days have been filled with "tons of press" appearances. "I don't think you can prepare yourself for it. I'm kind of just taking it one step at a time and rolling with the punches... just going with the flow. I've got a really good family around me and I love the people that I've got around me. I'm pretty sure they'll keep me grounded. I know they will because they're always like, 'Don't let it go to your head Jordin.' And I'm like, 'Okay!' I know that my mom, my dad, my grandparents... as long as I've got them with me, I think I'll be okay."
When you're 17-years-old and performing in-front of millions of people on a weekly basis, the life lessons come at you pretty fast, and Sparks said that's been the case with her Idol experience.
"This whole process has kind of made me a better person. I've loved everything about it," she said. "It's taught me how to emote better, and it's taught me to be a better performer and it's definitely taught me how crazy a week's schedule can be. I wouldn't have traded it for anything."
Sparks' father Phillippi was an NFL cornerback for nine season throughout the 1990s, so she's somewhat used to being in the spotlight and said it helped her put her Idol journey into perspective.
"When he was playing it was really cool because we'd go to the games and we'd watch," she explained. "And it's just so amazing because my dad is such a people person and he's so nice. Afterwards, we'd have to walk around and he would sign autographs and he's one of the nicest people you could ever meet. I really looked up to him for that, and he told me the other day how weird it was that he was watching me sign autographs because I used to watch him do the same thing. It kind of came full circle."