Cover Story

Sparks fly

"Sparks fly" Continued...

Issue: "Ideal Idol," June 2, 2007

Jordin's increasingly visible talent brought her into contact with an eclectic range of music stars. She performed for legendary shock-rocker-turned-Christian Alice Cooper at a contest for the singer's Christian charity, Solid Rock Foundation. She sang with CCM legend Michael W. Smith after his manager brought Jordin to Smith's home. "Ironically, they stopped by when George Huff, a former [Idol] contestant, was at the house," Smith wrote on his blog. "The three of us wound up around the piano and I remember thinking that I was playing and singing with two of the greatest voices I had heard in a long time. And Jordin . . . had a smile and personality as big and inviting as her voice." Smith invited Jordin to sing backup on two tours.

Even while the music industry was calling, Jordin maintained contact with pro-life groups. She sang twice at an Arizona Right to Life rally in 2005. Pro-life activist Schmidt says she booked Jordin to sing at With Child's Rally for Life in February 2006. "She's a very kind, young Christian woman," Schmidt said. And about her performance? "She was fantastic."

Jordin is far from the first American Idol contestant with Christian roots. Season Five star Mandisa Huntley may have scuttled her own position when she dedicated a gospel tune "to everybody that wants to be free . . . your addiction, lifestyle, or situation may be big, but God is bigger." Gay and lesbian activists interpreted her statement as support for ex-gay ministries, and her momentum flagged. She was eliminated and was a 10th-place finisher.

One of Sparks' Season 6 peers, Chris Sligh, sang a DC Talk song during one round, though not one with overtly Christian lyrics. In all, four of Season 6's top 11 finalists had Christian backgrounds: Melinda Doolittle, Phil Stacey, Sligh, and Jordin Sparks.

On her Idol biography website, Jordin listed winning the Gospel Music Association's Overall Spotlight Winner award in 2004 as one of her top accomplishments. On the same page, she listed God, Mom, and Dad as those she would like to thank upon winning.

Now that she has won the biggest music competition in America, "Our church's concerted prayer effort for Jordin is that she's not swallowed up by the industry," her Calvary pastor, Brad Eberly, told The Arizona Republic. "That she stays centered, that she can continue to have clarity as to who she is and where she comes from. And that her self-approval and her value go way beyond her ability to sing."

Michael W. Smith noted that the 17-year-old "is grounded in faith and family" and said he believes she can be a role model for young people all over the world: "What a tremendous responsibility, especially at her young age. But I think she's ready."

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