Jordin Sparks Jordin Sparks

Where Are They Now? 'American Idol' Girls

is infamous for churning out viral celebs (see William Hung) and its fair share of rock stars (see Chris Daughtry). But in the fold, a bevy of beautiful belters has graced the music industry as a result of the reality singing competition. With the new season of AI shooting ratings through the roof (but nowhere near past seasons), we decided to reflect on the series' most notable female talents. -- Terry Carter

1. Jordin Sparks

Then: She won over America with her bubbly personality and powerful voice. After winning Idol, she created hits like "No Air" with Chris Brown, "Tattoo" and "Battlefield."
Now: Last year, Sparks shed 50 pounds and starred in the musical film Sparkle with the late Whitney Houston. She is also currently dating R&B singer Jason Derulo.
Photo Credit: WireImage
Kelly Clarkson

2. Kelly Clarkson

Then: After becoming the first winner of American IdolKelly Clarkson went on to have a very successful career as a trailblazer for the following winners. She on to takeover Billboard charts with two No. 1 albums and three No. 1 singles on Billboard and establish herself as a breakout star of the show.
Now: Clarkson announced her engagement to talent manager Brandon Blackstock in 2012. Adding to that exciting news, the pop singer is nominated for three awards at the 2013 Grammys for her latest album Stronger.
Photo Credit: WENN

Fantasia3. Fantasia

Then: After her American Idol victory, Fantasia's first single "I Believe" debuted at No. 1 on Billboard. She went on to release three albums and won over theatre-goers in her role as Celie on Broadway's rendition of The Color Purple. In 2010, the "When I See U" singer made headlines for all the wrong reasons steaming from her adulterous affair and the birth of her son with a married man.
Now: Fantasia is back with a new song called "Lose to Win" and new album, The Side Effects of You, reportedly due in March. Hopefully, she can put all the scandals behind her and let the music speak for itself.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Katharine McPhee

4. Katherine McPhee

Then: Though runner-up for season 5 of American Idol, Katherine McPhee didn't let that stop her. She went on to release two albums and starred in the comedy film The House Bunny with Anna Farris.
Now: She's starring as the lead in the hit musical show Smash on NBC.
Photo Credit: Getty Images 
Jennifer Hudson

5. Jennifer Hudson

Then: J. Hud may not have won American Idol but she went on to nab an Oscar and a Gramm, with 2006's silver screen hit Dreamgirls and classic remake "And I Am Telling You" solidified her showstopper status. In lieu of her success, Hudson's dream life turned to a nightmare when her mother, brother and nephew were murdered in 2008.
Now: In May 2012, William Balfour was convicted for the murders and justice was finally served for the Hudson family. Jennifer is now a mother and the spokesperson for Weight Watchers after losing 80 pounds. She is looking forward to her upcoming wedding with WWE wrestler David Otunga.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Carrie Underwood

6. Carrie Underwood

Then: Underwood has become the most successful Idol winner, selling over 12 million albums and 18 million digital tracks to date. Since winning the singing competition, she has released three No. 1 albums, won 11 Country Music awards and 5 Grammys. In 2010, Underwood married ice hockey player Mike Fisher.
Now: In 2012, Carrie released her fourth studio album Blown Away which debuted at No.1 on Billboard and is also up for an award at the 2013 Grammys.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Jessica Sanchez

7. Jessica Sanchez

Then: At the tender age of 11, Sanchez won over the hearts of America while on America's Got Talent. She then went on to become the runner-up of American Idol's 11th season.
Now: She recently announced to Billboard magazine that she has completed her debut album due this spring and she is also set to star on FOX's hit TV show Glee.
Photo Credit: Getty Images 
Leah LaBelle

8. Leah LaBelle

Then: Leah was voted off early in the third season of American Idol but the public has not forgotten her name. In 2011, Pharrell and Jermaine Dupri signed to her to So So Def/I Am Other Records.
Now: In 2012, LaBelle premiered her new video for her song "Sexify," which charted on Billboard R&B charts. Look out for her debut album coming soon.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Diana DeGarm

9. Diana DeGarmo

Then: Diana was the runner-up to Barrino during the third season of American Idol but has not been stagnant since. She has released her first album, starred in the Broadway show Hairspray and joined the cast of the soap opera drama The Young & The Restless as Angelina.
Now: In 2012, on the season finale of American Idol, fellow AI alumni Ace Young proposed to her live on-air. She is expected to wed him on June 1, 2013.
Photo Credit: FOX

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.


Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...


— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.


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I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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