Where are they now: every ‘American Idol’ winner

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July 30, 2021
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Where are they now: every ‘American Idol’ winner

The hit show “American Idol” has captivated audiences for almost 20 seasons. From the first season when singing sensation Kelly Clarkson wowed audiences with her powerful vocals to last season’s amazing Just Sam, “American Idol” has provided a stage for contestants to showcase their talents. Ever wonder what the winners are doing today? We did and sent our Stacker team to research where the winners are today, and compiled a list of all “American Idol” winners by year.

If you are an avid “American Idol” fan from the beginning, you will remember when Kelly Clarkson won the first season. Who would imagine that she would go on to produce hit songs, snag Grammys, host another song competition, and launch a daytime television show along with another venture that may surprise you? While many fans are aware that contestants like Clarkson have produced music, you may be surprised that others have opened restaurants, starred in Broadway musicals, and wrote songs for TV shows.

While there have been plenty of successes, there have been challenges, too. Do you know who suffered a wrist injury and had to relearn playing the guitar, or struggled with a lackluster album launch? Grab your earbuds and turn on your favorite “American Idol” playlist to see where your favorite “American Idol” contestants are today.

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2002: Kelly Clarkson

The show's first winner, Kelly Clarkson, has come a long way since she belted out “A Moment Like This” when she was crowned. Today you can find the Grammy award–winning songbird coaching on “The Voice”, hosting her Emmy award–winning show “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” producing hits, and curating furniture collections.

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2003: Ruben Studdard

Since being crowned winner of “American Idol,” Ruben Studdard has released eight albums and earned a Grammy nomination in 2003. His most recent accomplishments include releasing an album entitled “Ruben Sings Luther” in 2018, and losing 119 pounds on “The Biggest Loser.”

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2004: Fantasia Barrino

“American Idol” season three winner Fantasia Barrino’s most recent accomplishment was welcoming her baby girl Keziah with husband Kendall. Since her victory, she has been nominated for three Grammy awards and written an autobiography, and she continues to tour and release albums.

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2005: Carrie Underwood

Grammy award–winning artist Carrie Underwood has also scored top awards from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, and she has been inducted in the Grand Ole Opry as well as the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. She is married to hockey star Mike Fisher and has two boys, Isaiah and Jacob.

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2006: Taylor Hicks

The first “American Idol” to score a residency in Las Vegas, Taylor Hicks released three albums after his victory and starred on Broadway and toured nationally in “Grease.” Today he is a co-owner of Birmingham's Saw’s Juke and hosts “State Plate,'' a food and travel show.

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2007: Jordin Sparks

After her “American Idol” fame, Jordin Sparks appeared in the musicals “In the Heights” and “Sparkle,” released three albums, and earned a Grammy nomination. She is married to Dana Isiah, and the couple have a son named Dana Isiah Thomas Jr.

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2008: David Cook

Rocker David Cook released a self-titled album after winning the “American Idol” title in 2007. Cook has also produced music with his band and independently as well as appeared in the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots.”

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2009: Kris Allen

After his controversial “American Idol” win, Kris Allen has produced music, even after a car accident seriously injured his wrist, leaving him wondering if he could ever play the guitar again. Allen and his wife, Kay O’Connell, are the proud parents of three children.

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2010: Lee DeWyze

After winning season nine of “American Idol,” the Illinois native signed with RCA Records and released six albums with hits that have been featured on television shows including “Suits” and “Shameless.” He has been married to Jonna Walsh since 2012.

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2011: Scotty McCreery

The youngest male to ever garner the coveted “American Idol” winner title, Scotty McCreery has released three studio albums and authored a memoir since his triumph. He will release his fifth album “Same Truck” in September.

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2012: Phillip Phillips

The Georgia native’s victory in 2012 set the stage for the artist who is often compared to Dave Matthews who is best known for his hit “Home.” He was nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020, but didn’t win despite earning over a million votes. He and his wife, Hannah, are the proud parents of Patch.

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2013: Candice Glover

The South Carolina native skyrocketed to win “American Idol” after her third audition. Her album “Music Speaks” had a lackluster launch, but she realized her dream of performing on Broadway in the musical “Home for the Holidays.”

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2014: Caleb Johnson

Season 13’s winner Caleb Johnson from Asheville, North Carolina, released his album “Testify” shortly after his victory. He also released another album with his band entitled “Born from Southern Ground'' in 2019.

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2015: Nick Fradiani

The Connecticut native released an album “Hurricane” after his 2014 crowning on “American Idol.” In 2019, he starred in the national tour of “A Bronx Tale.”

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2016: Trent Harmon

The Mississippi native signed with Big Machine Records after his “American Idol” victory. He is best known for his hit single “Falling.”

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2018: Maddie Poppe

Maddie Poppe won season 16, the “American Idol” reboot that premiered on ABC. Her boyfriend, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, came in second place. The Iowa native spends her time writing and performing songs and enjoying DIY projects.

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2019: Laine Hardy

Louisiana’s Laine Hardy won the 17th season of “American Idol.” In 2020, he was named a Taste of Country RISER and is working with producer Michael Knox and other celebrated songwriters on new works.

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2020: Just Sam

Harlem’s Just Sam won the 18th season of “American Idol.” In March 2021, she released her first solo single called “Africando” and is busy with new works.

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