Contestants came, they sang and the show was canceled. After the completion of its 15 season, American Idol—the singing competition that infiltrated households nationwide since 2002— will be scrapped. Much to fans’ chagrin (assuming Idol fans still exist), in January 2016, American Idol will begin its final season.
Fox made the announcement on Monday: “American Idol will begin its 15th—and final—season this January on Fox.” Idol fought the good fight, but it’s time. The network describes its last hoorah as “a season-long celebratory event.” As a mainstay of American television in the early 2000s, the show has much to celebrate.
In its heyday, Idol was unique. The show first aired on June 11, 2002, a hybrid reality show and talent-search competition. Diehards were excited to see the raw talent of African-American artists like Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia Barrino grace the American Idol stage. (Anyone remember the three divas from Season 3?) As a viewer, the best part was having the ability to determine a competitors’ Idol-destiny through voting. Oh, the pressure!
As we bid Idol adieu, EBONY takes a look at some of the show’s successful Black competitors. For these artists, the American Idol stage was a successful launching pad to everything from Broadway runs to Academy Awards.
Season: 3 (Seventh place)
Jennifer Hudson is arguably the most successful American Idol competitor. Ever. Eliminated as seventh place in the third season, Hudson has gone on to receive numerous awards—including an Oscar for her role as Effie White in Dreamgirls, and a Grammy for her self-titled album, Jennifer Hudson.
Season: 3 (Winner)
North Carolina native Fantasia Barrino won Idol judges over with her raspy, soulful voice, and soon became a force within the realms of R&B and gospel music. She won a Grammy-award and starred in her own Lifetime biopic, The Fantasia Barrino Story: Life Is Not a Fairy Tale.
Here, Barrino enchants the judges with her rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
Season: 6 (Winner)
Jordin Sparks took to the stage of American Idol at the tender age of 16. The teenager went on to win the sixth season of Idol, and has since released three studio albums. The “No Air” singer has performed both on Broadway (The Heights) and in Hollywood (her 2012 debut in Sparkle). But with her catchy lyrics and pop star appeal, it’s safe to say Sparks’s career is just beginning.
Season: 2 (Winner)
Ruben Studdard is the winner of American Idol’s second season. The Grammy-nominated artist went platinum with his 2003 debut album, Soulful. He’s since released five additional studio albums, including his most recent Unconditional Love.
Season: 12 (Winner)
The up-and-coming Candice Glover made her mark on Season 12 of American Idol. Undeterred, Glover auditioned three times before making it to the live Idol stage. To date, Candice Glover is the fourth African-American to win the Idol title.
Season: 2 (Third place)
Kimberley Locke auditioned for American Idol as a 23-year-old on the cusp of law school. She says the audition changed her life. Locke has gone on to be a jane of all trades: recording artist, voice coach, weight loss coach and chef!
Season: 6 (Third place)
This background singer made an attempt at being the frontwoman on American Idol’s sixth season. Unfortunately, Melinda Doolittle came in third place, but judges acknowledged that Doolittle deserved to take the win. She’s continued her singing career and gone on to pen a self-help book, Beyond Me: Finding Your Way to Life’s Next Level (with a foreward by Jordin Sparks!).
Here, Doolittle sings a soulful rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Since You’ve Been Gone.”
Season: 3 (Fourth Place)
Known as one of the “three divas (including Fantasia and Jennifer Hudson)” from Season 3, LaToya London came in fourth place. Soon after, she hit Broadway in The Color Purple to work with fellow diva Fantasia. She’s gone on to join punk band Urban Punk, and continues to develop her solo career.
Season: 12 (Fourth place)
Amber Holcomb came in fourth place on Season 12 of American Idol. The up-and-coming singer is still pursuing a career in music. Here, Holcomb sings the standard “My Funny Valentine.”
Season: 2 (Disqualified)
And how could we forget Frenchie?! The blonde bombshell rocked her 2002 audition with “And I Am Telling You,” but was later disqualified for… racy photographs. (Yikes.) Davis went on to star in various Broadway musicals, and even gave reality television a second go-round on The Voice.