‘American Idol’: Jordin Sparks Returns 16 Years After Her Audition — Here’s a Look Back

Jordin Sparks has come back to the American Idol stage 16 years after the audition that began her journey. The season 6 winner is one of seven alumni that will act as mentors during the milestone season 20’s Hollywood Week — other faces from Idol’s past include David Cook, Ruben Studdard, and more. In honor of Jordin’s return, here’s a look back at her journey to fame.

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, who will return to the series 16 years after her audition.
‘American Idol’ Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks | Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Jordin Sparks auditioned for ‘American Idol’ at 16 years old

Jordin came to American Idol from Glendale, Arizona, at just 16 years old. According to an interview she did at the time, she had initially auditioned in Los Angeles but didn’t make it through. However, after winning a local competition called Arizona Idol, Jordin received an invitation to audition again in front of judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul in Seattle. The latter audition aired on television during season 6 in 2007.

During her audition, Jordin said she took the chance to audition for American Idol as soon as she reached the minimum age requirement. She sang Celine Dion’s “Because You Love Me,” impressing the judges with her power at such a young age.

Simon told Jordin her performance was “a bit too cutesy” and “over the top,” but he voted to send her to Hollywood. Meanwhile, Randy said the singer was a “natural” and that she sounded perfect. Randy and Paula both voted “yes.”

Jordin Sparks won the competition and went on to release hits like ‘No Air’ and ‘Tattoo’

Jordin rapidly gained a following during her time on Idol, with her fans dubbing themselves “Sparkplugs.” The 17-year-old took home the first place trophy at the end of season 6, becoming the youngest American Idol winner in history (which she still is today). After her win, Simon told ABC News that Jordin had improved the most out of everyone that season.

Jordin’s momentum continued well after her Idol win. She went on to release her debut, “Tattoo,” in 2007, which reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She later released her famous duet with Chris Brown, “No Air,” which reached No. 3 and earned a Grammy nomination. Some of Jordin’s other hits include “Battlefield,” “S.O.S.,” and “One Step at a Time.”

The American Idol alum has continued her music career to this day. She’s also returned to Idol a few times over the years to perform. In 2017, she married a model named Dana Isaiah Thomas and gave birth to their son one year later.

Jordin Sparks returned to ‘American Idol’ in season 20 as a Hollywood Week mentor

For the first time in American Idol history, season 20’s Hollywood Week features alumni as guest mentors. In a sneak peek at the March 28 episode provided by E! News, Jordin is seen mentoring Sir Blayke before his performance for judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan.

“I come from a background of a struggling mom and dad and a house full of eight kids,” he says. “I’ve always felt like I had to make myself smaller.”

Jordin offers some encouragement to the singer, telling him he “deserves to take up space.”

“You deserve to be here,” she added.

American Idol airs on Sunday and Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for more updates.

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