Season One….Kelly Clarkson won. Season Two…..Ruben Studdard won, but Season Three produced not one, not two, but three winners of American Idol. Although season one and two winners and runner ups sold more albums than the following women combined (because of Kelly and Clay), thanks to Fantasia Barrino, Jennifer Hudson and Latoya London season three is arguably the most successful season thus far. You may be wondering why Latoya London is on this list. This fourth place beauty was considered a frontrunner by judges and celebrity judges. Post Idol life has been good to Latoya who went on to release her debut album Love & Life in 2005 and is currently starring as Nettie in the touring company of the Broadway musical The Color Purple.
Next up is winner Fantasia. With a story full of struggle and pain, if there was anyone that most people could relate to, it’s Fantasia Barrino. Despite criticism from viewers for her being a teen mother, Fantasia’s stride was unbroken, they actually made her want it even more. This Highpoint, NC native has a unique voice and a presence that seasoned artists wish they had. Upon auditioning, the judges knew she would go far but I bet they didn’t know that she would win. Not only did she win but her final song will go down in American Idol history as probably the most emotional ever because everyone I knew was crying at that very moment. We all felt her struggle so how could we not be happy for her. Our girl won it all! After she shocked the world with her soulful talent, she went on to release two albums, Free Yourself in 2004 and her self titled follow up Fantasia in 2006. She too can add The Color Purple to her list of achievements, because like Latoya she was cast as Celie by Ms. Oprah Winfrey herself.
Last but certainly not least is Jennifer Hudson or J Hud as she is affectionately called. Often criticized by judges for her colorful clothing and hair choices, this power house vocalist joined Fantasia and Latoya in one of the most controversial moments in American Idol history. The voters of American Idol put these women in the bottom three. How dare they put the best singers in the entire competition in the bottom. Even Sir Elton John was forced to declare American Idol voters as being racist. Coming from a white man, straight or other wise you knew there was some type of validity to what he was saying. This unjust elimination didn’t stop Jennifer. I’ll admit for a while I was wondering what happened to her but in December 2005 she emerged in the role of Effie in the film DreamGirls. Being cast along with Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and other great actors and actresses didn’t stop her from shining. Her breakthrough performance earned her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. After starring in Sex In The City, her self titled debut album Jennifer Hudson went on to win a Grammy for best new artist. During her whirlwind thrust into superstardom, Jennifer lost three very important people in her life and while our hearts go out to her, we know that this is only the beginning for her.
All three of these women, showed a great amount of poise when the odds were against them on American Idol. As their stars continue to soar, I get the feeling that they have not and will not forget where it all began and how they were almost defeated on the show that gave them their start.