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American Idol Star Jordin Sparks Announces New Album, Drops Mixtape

Remember that TV show American Idol, where people dissolve musical talent into a cutthroat Twitter tournament? Jordin Sparks (and Pepperidge Farms) remembers. The 24-year old Glendale singer took home the gold in 2007, and she's kept busy ever since. Most recently, Sparks signed to a new label and released a new single, "It Ain't You," not to mention her oh-so-modernly titled "mixtape," #BYEFELICIA. Her third album, Right Here, Right Now, is due for release in early 2015.

Sparks was only 17 when she won Season Six of American Idol, and that same year, her self-titled debut album quickly went Platinum, selling more than a million copies. Her second single from the record, "No Air," won the "Choice Hook-Up" award at the 2008 Teen Choice Awards, which is a little strange considering Sparks' age at the time, and the fact that the song featured Chris Brown. Oh, how the times have changed.

Yet, following her chart-topping sophomore album Battlefield, it's clear that Sparks wasn't destined to become another Idol burnout. Besides opening for Britney Spears and the Jonas Brothers, Sparks also performed Battlefield's song "Faith" at President Obama's 2009 inauguration.

This doesn't even touch on the wave of accolades Sparks has received over the years, including two BET awards, one American Music award, a People's Choice Award, a GRAMMY Award nomination, and two MTV Video Music Awards.

See also: Stop the Slaughter: Pundits pan Jordin Sparks' debut album, for all the wrong reasons

But Sparks didn't limit herself to music -- after her acting debut on the Disney sitcom The Suite Life On Deck, the singer turned her eyes to Broadway, in 2010 starring as Nina Rosario in the musical In The Heights. She became the star of Sparkle, the 2012 remake of the Supremes' film of the same name, alongside Derek Luke (who played P. Diddy in Notorious) and the late Whitney Houston. Among her supporting roles in The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete and the Lifetime TV movie Dear Secret Santa, Sparks also played in Left Behind, the Nicholas Cage remake about the apocalypse or something.

In the consumer marketing/sell-out spectrum, Sparks endorsed the Got Milk? campaign, was behind a line of makeup through Avon, her own Wet Seal clothing line, and not one, but THREE lines of fragrances.

But that isn't to say Sparks hasn't been somewhat charitable. Teaming up with then First Lady Laura Bush, Sparks went to Ghana, sang "Amazing Grace," and with the help of the nonprofit Malaria No More, donated a number of treated bed nets to help combat the scourge of malaria in the African country. Among other benevolent acts, Sparks also contributed a charity single for the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, supported the music education group Little Kids Rock, and also supports Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, which help raise money for children with cancer.

So while some people may only care that Sparks once appeared in a bikini on the cover of People's "Most Amazing Bodies" issue, it's safe to say this former Arizona singer's career has been anything but quaint. Who knew that a silly little television contest like American Idol would propel a teenage girl so far?

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah