What Your Favorite American Idol Stars Are Up to Now

We got a hot one tonight! Check out what your favorite American Idol stars have been up to since their time on the show.

By Jillian Fabiano Feb 18, 2024 10:00 PMTags
Watch: American Idol: First Look At Upcoming Season!

It's a "yes" from E!, dawg.

As in, yes, we're both thrilled that American Idol is returning and that season three winner Fantasia Barrino just netted her first Golden Globe nod for her role in The Color Purple remake. "For me, losing everything twice, having to fight to get back here, it feels good," the musician told E! News ahead of both the award show's nominations and the film's Christmas Day release. "That's why I'm going to enjoy it because my story has always been out there. I've never been afraid to share it. I feel that when you go through tests, that's your testimony. How else do you help somebody else?"

And she's not the only veteran from the long-running music competition series to have a tale to tell. 

From Kelly Clarkson and Adam Lambert to Carrie Underwood and Jordin Sparks, some of Hollywood's biggest stars have graced the American Idol stage. Though some took home the show's microphone trophies, others have since taken home Grammys.

Ranking All of American Idol's Judges

In case Idol hopefuls were looking for more reasons to covet that golden ticket to Hollywood.

So before judges Katy Perry (in her series swan song!), Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie begin the journey to crown a 22nd champ Feb. 18, we're looking back on all the champs who waited a lifetime for their winning moment. 

Kelly Clarkson

The mom of River and Remy has come a long way since experiencing a moment like this on the inaugural season of American Idol in 2002. The New York resident has collected three Grammys and counting (with her latest disc, Chemistry, up for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 2024 Grammys), notched three No. 1 hits, starred on NBC's The Voice as a judge and is now hosting her own award-winning daytime talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show.

Clay Aiken

The season two runner-up made two big reveals in September 2008—annoucing that the birth of his son Parker (with his close friend, music producer Jaymes Foster) inspired him to come out. "I can't raise a kid and teach him how to lie, teach him to hide things," he reasoned on Good Morning America. "And at the same time, I also don't ever want to raise him in an environment where it's not OK for him to be exactly who he is, no matter what."

Since then, the famous red-head switched from music to politics, even making a run for Congress in 2016. After losing in the election, the singer released a documentary about his journey. But he hasn't totally left music in the rearview, announcing his plans to tour with season two champ Ruben Studdard in 2024. 

Ruben Studdard

After winning season two of Idol, Ruben went on to score a Grammy nomination and released a handful of successful albums. Then, in 2013, the singer starred as one of the contestants on The Biggest Loser and quickly became a fan-favorite. He was eliminated twice, but took away valuable lessons from the show.

And while he and Clay remain tight, he found his forever partner in wife Kristin, who welcomed their second child in 2024.  

Fantasia Barrino

Truth is, the season three champion is grateful for every step of her journey. "We go through things, you fall, you get back up," she shared with E! News in December. And though she's weathered some tough moments, "For me, losing everything twice, having to fight to get back here, it feels good." 

Her latest high notes include welcoming daughter Keziah with husband Kendall Taylor in 2021 and receiving a Golden Globe nod for The Color Purple remake. Said the North Carolina native, also mom to 22-year-old daughter Zion, "I want to enjoy this and know that I worked hard to get here."

Jennifer Hudson

She may not have won season three, but we are telling you the musician made up for it: First an Oscar for 2006's Dreamgirls, then a Grammy for her performance The Color Purple musical adaption in 2017, plus a stint as a judge on The Voice. The latest project for the mom to David, 14: Her own eponymous talk show

Carrie Underwood

From the moment she stepped onto the Idol stage, Underwood cemented her place in pop culture. Sure enough, not only did she win season four, but she's also gone on to become country music's reigning princess.

She went on to co-host the CMA Awards for more than 10 years with fellow artist, Brad Paisley. And between balancing her music career with her hosting duties, the "Jesus Take The Wheel Singer" is a mom to her two sons with retired NHL center Mike Fisher.

Bo Bice

The season four runner-up is now married with three boys and a girl. Despite suffering serious health problems in 2006, the Southern rocker has released three hit albums since his stint on Idol.

Constantine Maroulis

With his big hair and even bigger voice (who can forget his rousing rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" during season four?), Constantine was a perfect fit for Broadway's Rock of Ages, for which he earned a Tony nom.

Currently touring with his single "Comeback," the dad to 13-year-old Malena is also starring in Broadway's Rock & Roll Man

Taylor Hicks

After his season-five victory, the silver fox's eponymous album went platinum and he starred in a Broadway production of Grease. In more recent years, he has made the switch from music to TV as a host of a show called State-Plate, which focuses on the premise of farm-to-table eating. Though he remains committed to his first love, with a slate of tour dates set for January 2024. 

Katharine McPhee

Long before Bieber fever, there was McPheever, which has helped Katharine land both singing and acting work, most notably in the Broadway-inspired show Smash and the drama Scorpion.

Wed to David Foster since 2019, she is now mom to musically-inclined son Rennie. "I would love for him to follow in his dad's footsteps and just be really well-versed in all different types of musical instruments," Katharine told E! News. "Obviously, he's 2-and-a-half. We're not pushing him. We're just letting him do his thing. But, I would love for him to have a working understanding of all instruments a lot like his dad. I think he's on his way—that's for sure."

Elliott Yamin

After American Idol, the season five finalist, who had a hit with the song "Wait for You," went to Angola where he worked alongside former Idol judge Kara DioGuardi to raise awareness for Malaria No More. Elliott also made news in 2010 after experiencing Chile's earthquake and living to tweet about it.

Still making music, he shares daughter Camilla, 3, with Karen Cruz

Kellie Pickler

While the country music singer finished sixth on the fifth season of American Idol, she has starred in Hallmark's Christmas in Graceland and earned three Daytime Emmy nods for her TV show Pickler & Ben.

Following husband Kyle Jacobs' death by suicide in February 2023, she's been reflecting on their years together. "One of the most beautiful lessons my husband taught me was in a moment of a crisis, if you don't know what to do, ‘do nothing, just be still,'" Pickler told People in an interview published this past August. "I have chosen to heed his advice."

Jordin Sparks

As the youngest ever winner, the season six champ set off some serious, well, sparks in 2007. Her Battlefield tour took her to 35 cities around the U.S., and (if that wasn't enough), she made her Broadway debut in 2010, starring in the musical In the Heights. Her success and good fortune has continued, with the star giving birth to her first son with husband Dana Isaiah in May of 2018. 

In the years since, she made an emotional return to Idol and competed on the 31st season of Dancing With the Stars

David Cook

The season seven winner's big hit "Time of My Life" may reflect his singing success, but the title could just as easily apply to his endeavors offstage. David visited Ethiopia in 2010 on behalf of the United Nations' efforts to empower women in that country. He also ran in the Race for Hope in D.C. to raise money for brain cancer research in honor of his brother Adam, who lost his fight with the disease in 2009.

Married to Racheal Stump since 2015, the still-touring musician released his latest single "TABOS" in 2022. 

David Archuleta

After finishing in second place to his fellow David on season seven, the singer embarked on a two-year mission for the Church of the Latter Day Saint's in Chile. Since his return in 2014 he has continued performing.

He came out as member of the LGBTQ+ community in June 2021. "It’s been a beautiful journey learning to accept myself," he shared on Instagram in October, "and I hope just by living my life now I can encourage many of you out there to do the same."

Kris Allen

Nearly eclipsed in the media spotlight by his runner-up, Adam Lambert, the season eight champ has enjoyed quiet success with his self-titled second album. Released in November 2009, it debuted at no. 11 on the Billboard 200, and one of its singles, "I Need to Know," was featured on an episode of The Vampire Diaries. 

In the meantime, the star has been growing his family, having welcomed three children with his high school sweetheart Katy O'Connell.

Adam Lambert

If publicity were a prize, the eighth season's controversial runner-up is a grand-slam winner. Since his time on the reality show, he's released several albums, headlined tours, received countless nominations (including a Grammy nod), followed in Freddie Mercury's footsteps touring as the frontman for Queen and has even starred in Fox's remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Not to forget that he briefly filled in as a guest judge on Idol. The singer also helped open up the 2019 Oscars with a performance of "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions." 

Danny Gokey

After season 8 of American Idol, Gokey got married to his now-wife Leyicet Peralta in 2012, and the pair have four children together.

As a three-time Grammy nominee, he released a Christian music album titled Jesus People in 2021. He also has an eyewear brand named Danny Gokey Eyewear.

Lee DeWyze

After joining the top 10 finalists' summer tour in 2010, the season nine winner launched his solo music career. Lee also married model-actress Jonna Walsh in 2012 after they met on the set of his first music video following Idol. Nowadays, the star is a well-established singer-songwriter, with his tracks making it onto shows like The Walking Dead

Crystal Bowersox

Runner-up to Lee DeWyze in season nine, the Janis Joplin-esque rocker married musician Brian Walker and released her first album, Farmer's Daughter, in December 2010. She lost her label deal when RCA disbanded Arista, J Records and Jive Records, but she made her acting debut on the second season of ABC's Body of Proof.

In May 2013, the singer split from her husband. After her divorce she told The Boot that her second album All That For This was "the next chapter of my life."

The mom of two has since released 2017's Alive and 2022's HitchHiker

Scotty McCreery

The season 10 winner was the first Idol champ since Ruben to have his first album, Clear as Day, debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. He was named New Artist of the Year at the 2011 American Country Awards and sang the national anthem before Game 1 of the World Series that same year. In June 2018, the "This Is It" and "Five More Minutes" singer married longtime girlfriend Gabi Dugal. They welcomed son Avery in October 2022. 

Lauren Alaina

The country darling finished second to Scotty, but she got her record deal and released her studio debut, Wildflower, in October 2011. Following her time on Idol, the singer presented with Scotty at the 2011 CMT Music Awards, made her Grand Ole Opry debut and even performed with Martina McBride at the CMA Music Festival.

In 2017, she got her first nod from the CMAs when she was nominated for Best New Artist following her success with her album, Road Less Traveled. She even made her move to the big screen when she starred in a film of the same name.

The "Thicc As Thieves" singer revealed her engagement to Cam Arnold while performing at the Grand Ole Opry in November 2022. 

Casey Abrams

The season 10 contestant only finished sixth—and that was partly because the judges used their one save of the season five weeks beforehand—but he was a cult fave. He performed on the Idols Live tour, cut a cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with fellow finalist (and rumored flame) Haley Reinhart, and ultimately signed with jazz label Concord.

His self-titled debut album was released in 2012, and was followed by 2018's I Put A Spell On You and 2019's Jazz

Jimmie Allen

Sure, he was cut before the live voting rounds in season 10, but Allen has since released two consecutive No. 1 hits with 2018's "Best Shot" and "Make Me Want To" and won the 2021 Country Music Association Award for New Artist of the Year.

In April 2023, he and wife Alexis Allen announced that they were expecting their third child and ending their two-year marriage. Nearly a month later, Jimmie was accused of sexual assault and abuse by his former manager in a lawsuit. Though the musician admitted to being unfaithful, publicly apologizing to Alexis "for humiliating her with my affair," he denied the sexual misconduct allegations and said the relationship with his former manager was a "consensual" one. 

Shortly after welcoming son Cohen Ace James in September, the couple revealed they were trying to repair their union

Phillip Phillips

After his season 11 win, the musician rose to the top of the charts with his hit single, "Home," which also served as a theme song for NBC's coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics. He released his latest album, Drift Back this past June.

In 2015, he married his girlfriend, Hannah Blackwell, in a small ceremony while surrounded by his family and friends. Four years later, they welcomed their first child together, a son named Patch

Maddie Poppe

"There is a lot of different sounding songs on the album," the season 16 winner teased to E! News ahead of releasing the appropriately named Whirlwind in 2019, a year after her Idol victory. "I can't pick just one [sound] to stick with because I really love them all so much and it's hard to stay in one vein." 

Her latest single, 2023's "SOS I'm In Love" has a strong POV, though. Because she is, by the way, revealing her romance with musician Gabe Burdulis after her split from season 16 runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Since becoming the runner-up of season 16, the singer has focused on releasing new music and enjoying life's opportunities that come with appearing on the ABC series.

"I've always loved music and I've always wanted to be an artist," Caleb Lee shared with E! News. "But I learned so much about entertainment. I got to go to Luke Bryan's last show for his tour and I got to come out and sing a song with him." He released his latest disc, Southern Galactic in November. 

Gabby Barrett

After coming in third on season 16 of Idol, the "I Hope" country singer focused on finishing her album. "I'm excited to play Stagecoach. And touring with Brad Paisley is the cherry on top to everything," she told E! News. "It's crazy to go on tour with him."

Nearly two years after she and fellow alum Cade Foehner welcomed their first baby together, daughter Baylah, they added son Augustine to the mix in October 2022. This past August, she revealed she was expecting their third child

(This story was originally published on Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 at 1:45 p.m. PT.)