5 Black ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now?

American Idol is back and better than ever.

American Idol, which first aired in 2002, attracted viewers’ immediate attention with its renowned panel of judges consisting of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson.

The show’s debut season saw the emergence of Kelly Clarkson, who became an iconic star. Throughout its long-running success, this popular show has spawned many musical, television and Broadway stars.

This new season of American Idol has revealed some of the most talented young people the country has to offer. Take a look at some of the most memorable black winners and find out where they are now.

Black American Idol winners

Ruben Studdard

Ruben Studdard

Studdard won the second season of American Idol and was aptly nicknamed the “velvet teddy bear.” His talent was celebrated when his debut album Soulful topped the Billboard 200 chart and received a Grammy nomination.

He followed up with a gospel album in 2004 before returning to R&B with his album The Return in 2006, but unfortunately his J Records label dropped him in 2007.

He released his most recent album Ruben Sings Luther, a tribute to the late Luther Vandross, in 2018. This beloved singer returned to television when he competed as the first celebrity contestant on season 15 of The Biggest Loser.

Fantasia Barrino

Fantasia Barrino

North Carolina native Fantasia Barrino catapulted to fame when she won season 3 of a contest and released her Grammy-nominated debut album, Free Yourself.

She went on to earn a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2011 and a total of 12 nominations throughout her career, including her seventh studio album released in 2019, Sketchbook.

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In 2007, he took on the role of Shug Avery in the Broadway musical The Color Purple and returned to the stage six years later for After Midnight.

Her memoir Fantasia: Life Is Not a Fairytale was adapted into a Lifetime movie in 2006.

Barrino also starred in his own reality show on VH1, Fantasia for Real, for two seasons. Unfortunately, in 2010 he attempted suicide with an aspirin overdose, which he later revealed publicly.

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks

Sparks achieved monumental success at the age of 17 by becoming the youngest winner of “American Idol” in 2005, a feat still unmatched. Following this victory, the Arizona native released her self-titled debut album which was certified platinum with the help of her Top 10 hits like “Tattoo” and “No Air.”

Additionally, “No Air” became the third highest-charting single by an “Idol” champion after songs by Clarkson and Underwood.

Her fame led to certain roles in television and movies, in addition to starring in Broadway productions such as “In The Heights” and “Waitress.”

Candice Glover

Candice Glover

In 2013, Glover won season 12 of American Idol, the first woman to do so since Sparks.

He subsequently released his first album, Music Speaks, in 2014.

After a few years of taking a break from the music scene, she returned with her single “My Mistake” in 2017 and followed up with the release of “Break Me” a year later.

Additionally, Glover was cast in the Broadway musical Home for the Holidays in 2017.

Just Sam (Samantha Diaz)

Just Sam (Samantha Diaz)

At the age of 20, Samantha Diaz, also known as Just Sam, made history when she competed in the inaugural “American Idol” pandemic finale.

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The singer, originally from Harlem, New York, had initially auditioned for both “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent” before her rise to national fame on “Idol.”

After signing with Hollywood Records, Sam released his rendition of the song “Rise Up”; However, last year she announced that she was financially exhausted trying to buy back her recordings from the label, which has thus far prevented her from releasing new music.

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