13. Lil Rounds
Lil, 23, was the subject of a feature segment during the Kansas City audition. The segment told how she, her husband and their three children were forced to live out of a motel after a tornado destroyed their home at the Briar Club Apartments near Memphis, Tenn.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal tracked down Briar Club general manager Cynthia Johnson who recalled that Rounds and her husband were “good, quiet, humble people. Nobody knew she was as talented as she turned out to be.”
Indeed, Rounds has received praise from the judges every time she has sung. In her Idol interview, she says she’s been singing since age 2. “That’s when I was successfully able to sing the Happy Birthday song.”
Lil says she prefers singing R&B and a little jazz. According to a fan club Web site, she has sung at a Memphis Club called Fire & Ice.
14. Megan Corkrey
Megan was also featured during an audition episode, Salt Lake in this case. We learned that she’s the mother of a 2-year-old son named Ryder, that she decided to divorce his father because “I just knew the life that I had planned for us, that I had pictured, wasn’t going to happen.”
She wound up auditioning on her 23rd birthday, sang “Can’t Help Loving that Man of Mine” and drew rave reviews from all four judges. She was identified as a font designer on the blue ID bar that pops up on Idol when an auditioner begins singing.
In her Idol video, Megan says she usually sings jazz and bluesish and R&B type music. Here’s what she said about her decision to audition: “I was at a crossroads in my life and anything was possible and anything’s still possible, and why not chase a dream.” She shows the potential to be one of this year’s most likeable contestants.
15. Mishavonna Henson
Mishavonna — pronounced Mish-a-vonna — is just 18 but has enough TV and movie credits to merit a page on imdb.com as Misha Henson and has a five-track EP under her belt as simply Mishavonna.
She sings country on the CD, released in April 2007, though a rapper interrupts the title track, “Edge of the World,” at a couple of points. I kid you not. You can check it out yourself. Free downloads of all five tracks are available at the Redrum Productions Web site; the EP is also available through iTunes for $4.95.
But be forewarned. Mishovanna sounds like what she is, a very young singer. One song, “Her Next Plan,” is very good. I’d love to hear Ann-Marie, Kristen and Kendall sing it for comparative purposes.
As for her TV credits, they includes appearances on an episode of “Frasier” and the Nickelodeon show “Unfabulous.” Mishavonna made it to Hollywood last year, but got cut on the second day. Here’s what she says about that experience in her Idol video: “I was heartbroken when I got cut. It made me realize how much I really want this.”
16. Stevie Wright
We met 17-year-old Stevie in this year’s very first audition episode from Phoenix where she told the world that her parents named her after a far more famous singer, Stevie Nicks.
According to the Daily Press of Victorville, Calif., Stevie is a student at Serrano High School where she participates in the choral program. “I decided to audition because it’s been my dream snce I was 9 years old … and I was always saying, ‘Mom, when I turn 16, I want to do that.”
She says she prefers singing pop music and that she had a simple strategy for winning over the judges. “My game plan is to just be really bubbly and to show my personality and then just sing my heart out.”
17. Tatiana Del Toro
Remember Mikalah Gordon from season four of Idol. She’s my winner of the award for most annoying Idol contestant ever. Well, if Tatiana makes it to the final 12, she just might wrestle the annoying crown right off Mikalah’s head.
On top of the irritating laugh, displayed so prominently during her audition, Tatiana almost outdid Bikini Girl as the most self-obsessed drama queen on group night last week.
OK, down to facts. Tatiana is 24 and was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She bills herself as a singer/songwriter of all sorts of music and as a sometimes actress. She has performed at some of California hottest nightspots, Whiskey a Go Go, The Viper Room and The Cat Club, apparently as Tatiana Nicole.
Asked it she writes her own music in a 2006 interview, her response was: “Every note. I write, arrange, produce and perform it.” At the point in her Idol video interview where most contestants talk about the style of music they prefer, Tatiana says: “My favorite type of music is my own music. I love being a songwriter.”
At some point, she was also apparently a student at the New York Film Academy. Someone posted a congratulations to Tatiana on the site last week. One comment was posted under it. The person posting the comment closed with: “Please, try not to laugh so much.”
18. Taylor Vaifanua
Add Taylor to the list of Idol wannabes with at least an independent CD release in their past. The 16-year-old released 10-track CD named “Timeless” in 2006. It’s no longer available through CD Universe, but you can still hear short clips of each of the songs there.
The Deseret News of Salt Lake profiled Taylor at the time of her CD release. Taylor’s mom, Angie, explained how Taylor gained an appreciation for music during the five years the family lived in Samoa where “there wasn’t a lot of stuff to do.”
The family now lives in Hurricane, Utah; Taylor told Idol they moved to the United States so she could be discovered.
As for the CD, Taylor told the Deseret News the songs she recorded were mostly written by Christian writers, although they’re not necessarily religious songs. She described them as “kind of inspirational, but hip-hop and pop at the same time.” Idol made much of the fact that the teen stands 5-foot-11. No wonder the newspaper story mentions that she’s also a standout basketball player.
Mishavonna sings “Like Johnny and June”
Mishavonna sings “When the Lights Go Down”
Taylor’s video for “Inside Outside”