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[02/16/06 - 12:00 AM]
Top 24 "American Idol" Semifinalists Revealed as TV's Hottest Show Heats Up!

[via press release from FOX]

TOP 24 "AMERICAN IDOL" SEMIFINALISTS REVEALED AS TV'S HOTTEST SHOW HEATS UP!

AMERICA BEGINS VOTING FOR FAVORITE CONTESTANTS GIRLS COMPETE FOR FIRST TIME TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21 AND BOYS COMPETE WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22 First LIVE Results Show Airs Thursday, February 23, on FOX

The remarkable fifth season of AMERICAN IDOL hit a high note last night as the grueling Hollywood auditions ended and the judges' Top 24 semifinalists were revealed. Next week, the 24 contestants will be split into two groups � 12 males and 12 females � with each performing a song of his or her choice for America. The fate of these 24 contestants � one of whom will be the next American Idol � now rests in the viewers' hands. See what happens when the competition heats up, nerves rattle and contestants shine or fizzle out on the season's first performance shows Tuesday, Feb. 21 (8:00�10:00 PM ET/PT) and Wednesday, Feb. 22 (8:00�10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Then tune in to see who America chooses to continue in the competition. Two males and two females will be eliminated on the results show Thursday, Feb. 23 (8:00�9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed).

The Top 12 female singers from around the nation will perform Tuesday, Feb. 21 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. At the end of the show, the phone lines will open for two hours and AMERICAN IDOL viewers will vote for their favorite female contestant(s). Fans can use the branded toll-free telephone numbers (1-866-IDOLS-01, -02, etc.) until 12:00 AM ET/PT (11:00 PM CT/MT), subject to time zone restrictions, or vote via text messaging from their Cingular Wireless phones. Cingular Wireless customers can send the word "vote" to the four-digit short number (5701, 5702, etc.) representing the contestant of their choice.

The Top 12 male singers from around the nation will perform Wednesday, Feb. 22 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. At the end of the show, the phone lines will again open for two hours and AMERICAN IDOL viewers will vote for their favorite male contestant(s) from Wednesday's episode. As on Tuesday, fans can use the branded toll-free telephone numbers (1-866-IDOLS-01, -02, etc.) until 12:00 AM ET/PT (11:00 PM CT/MT), subject to time zone restrictions, or vote via text messaging from their Cingular Wireless phones. Cingular Wireless customers can send the word "vote" to the four-digit short number (5701, 5702, etc.) representing the contestant of their choice.

On Thursday's LIVE results show, the semifinalists will take the stage to find out their fate. The two lowest vote-getters from each group will be eliminated from the competition live on Thursday, Feb. 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.

Meet Your 24 Semifinalists:

Female singers scheduled to perform Tuesday, Feb. 21 (8:00�10:00 PM ET/PT) include:

PARIS BENNETT � (17) From Fayetteville, GA � (Auditioned in Greensboro) � Paris began singing at the age of 4. She has performed in numerous concerts and has opened for many groups, including Bow Wow. Paris is a skilled dancer in hip-hop, jazz and modern African dance.

AYLA BROWN � (17) From Wrentham, MA (Auditioned in Boston) � Ayla is currently a senior at Noble & Greenough High School. She is captain of her basketball team and has scored over 2,200 points. Ayla will be attending Boston College in the fall on a full basketball scholarship. She got her start in the world of music while singing along to Disney movies at the age of 6.

HEATHER COX � (22) From Jonesville, NC (Auditioned in Denver) � Heather currently lives in her hometown of Jonesville, NC, and recently graduated from Surry Community College with an accounting degree.

BRENNA GETHERS � (25) From Mt. Vernon, NY (Auditioned in Boston) � Born in the Bronx and raised in Mt. Vernon, NY, Brenna began singing at the tender age of 3. Brenna holds a black belt in Shotokan karate and is an avid Scrabble competitor.

MANDISA � (29) From Antioch, TN (Auditioned in Chicago) � Born and raised in Citrus Heights, CA, Mandisa moved to Nashville to study singing at Fisk University. She has performed with such artists as Shania Twain, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill and Charlie Daniels.

KINNIK SKY� (28) From Duluth, GA (Auditioned in Greensboro) � Born and raised in Columbia, SC, Kinnik began singing at the age of 4, and considers her singing style "old school soul." For the past eight years, she has been living in Duluth, GA, where she works as a professional actress at various theaters.

MELISSA McGHEE � (21) From Tampa, FL (Auditioned in Denver) � Melissa was born and raised in Tampa. At the young age of 4 Melissa embarked on her performing career. A true romantic, Melissa enjoys singing, dancing and going to the beach in her free time.

KATHARINE McPHEE � (21) From Sherman Oaks, CA (Auditioned in San Francisco) � Katharine was born and raised in Los Angeles. She was exposed at an early age to the joy of singing by her mother, a vocal coach. After high school, Katharine attended the prestigious Boston Conservatory for one semester and majored in musical theater.

BECKY O'DONOHUE � (25) From Dobbs Ferry, NY (Auditioned in Boston) � Becky began singing at the age of 4. Becky attended Niagara University on a full scholarship and received her B.A. in Communications. Singing isn't her only talent. Becky played Division I basketball for Niagara University. Currently, she is working for an entertainment company and as a waitress in City Island.

KELLIE PICKLER � (19) From Albemarle, NC (Auditioned in Greensboro) � Kellie is a waitress who currently lives in Albemarle, NC, and enjoys singing, dancing and shopping for shoes. Kellie has been singing for as long as she can remember, but only began performing for crowds four years ago.

STEVIE SCOTT � (19) From Fair Oaks, CA (Auditioned in Denver) � Stevie is currently a freshman at California State University, Sacramento, studying music. She is from a musical family, began performing at 10, and by the age of 15, began a recording career. A versatile musician who plays the guitar and piano, Stevie enjoys performing everything from R&B to opera.

LISA TUCKER � (16) From Anaheim, CA (Auditioned in Denver) � Lisa is currently a senior at Kennedy High School. She was the original "Young Nala" in Disney's Los Angeles production of "The Lion King" and was voted by Variety as one of the "Top Ten Talents to Watch." Lisa also plays the guitar and piano and is a songwriter.

Male singers scheduled to perform Wednesday, Feb. 22 (8:00�10:00 PM ET/PT) include:

BOBBY BENNETT � (19) From Denver, CO (Auditioned in Denver) � Bobby has been singing from the age of 7. He dreams of becoming a performer so he can make people forget about their troubles for a little while. Before making the Final 24, Bobby worked at Target.

KEVIN COVAIS � (16) From Levittown, NY (Auditioned in Boston) � Kevin is a junior at Island Trees High School in Levittown, NY. He has been performing since he was 10 years old and has appeared in productions such as "Guys and Dolls" and "Godspell." Kevin also is a member of the Chorale in the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and the Nassau/Suffolk Jazz ensemble.

BUCKY COVINGTON � (28) From Rockingham, NC (Auditioned in Greensboro) � Bucky lives in his hometown of Rockingham, NC. At the age of 19, he picked up a guitar for the first time and soon after joined his first band. About two years ago, Bucky switched to a country/beach/rock band and realized that his talent crosses many types of music.

CHRIS DAUGHTRY � (26) From McLeansville, NC (Auditioned in Denver) � Chris discovered his singing ability in algebra class. A gifted guitar player and songwriter, Chris has already recorded a CD with his band Absent Element. For the past three years, Chris has been a service advisor for a car dealership in Greensboro, NC. In 2000, Chris married his wife Deanna and became a stepfather of two.

PATRICK HALL � (27) From Gravette, AR (Auditioned in Las Vegas) � Patrick was born in a small town in Arkansas and began singing in church at age 4. Since then he has been pursuing his singing career while also working as a real estate manager. In 2005, Patrick married his longtime friend Laura, and they currently live with their two cats and a puppy.

TAYLOR HICKS � (29) From Birmingham, AL (Auditioned in Las Vegas) � Taylor is a blue-eyed soul singer who has played every honky-tonk imaginable. A talented writer and harmonica player, Taylor enters the competition with almost 29 years of singing experience, as he has been singing since he could crawl.

WILL MAKAR � (16) From The Woodlands, TX (Auditioned in Austin) � Will was born and raised in The Woodlands, TX. Will is currently a sophomore at The Woodlands College Park High School. He discovered his talent after his two sisters made him sing "Bare Necessities" for their friends. In 1999 and 2002, Will sang with the Houston Children's Chorus for President Clinton and President Bush, respectively. People would be surprised to know that Will can impersonate Chewbacca from "Star Wars."

GEDEON McKINNEY � (17) From Memphis, TN (Auditioned in Chicago) � Gedeon hails from a family of seven children (four boys and three girls). Too young to join the choir, Gedeon sang on the steps of a church for his first standing ovation. He is a senior at The Yo! Memphis Academy of Visual and Performing Arts.

JOSE "SWAY" PENALA � (28) From South San Francisco (Auditioned in San Francisco) � Sway enters the competition making his own music. Before joining IDOL, he was a member of the 6th Day singing group. Jose spends his days working in real estate and his nights entertaining crowds through song.

DAVID RADFORD � (17) From Crystal Lake, IL (Auditioned in Chicago) � David is currently a senior at Crystal Lake Central High School. He has been singing "his way" since he can remember. As a child, whenever there was a spotlight, David somehow found a way to its center. In addition to singing, David plays the trumpet as well as a mean game of Ping-Pong.

ELLIOTT YAMIN � (27) From Richmond, VA (Auditioned in Boston) � Elliott began singing at the ripe age of 5. His mother, who was a professional singer, is his inspiration and biggest fan. For Elliott, being on AMERICAN IDOL has allowed him to pursue his dream of singing professionally.

ACE YOUNG � (25) From Los Angeles, CA (Auditioned in Denver) � Ace is the youngest of five brothers. Ace grew up in Boulder, CO, and began his singing career at age 9. He started performing at 11 in local malls and recreation centers. Ace lives in Los Angeles and works in sales and home remodeling.

Fourteen-time Emmy-nominated AMERICAN IDOL is created and executive-produced by Simon Fuller, founder of 19 Entertainment, Ltd.; and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.; Nigel Lythgoe, President, 19 Television; and Ken Warwick, Executive Producer, FremantleMedia North America, Inc.

Go to AmericanIdol.com for all of your AMERICAN IDOL news. Check out the photos from the different audition cities, along with special, behind-the-scenes information on AMERICAN IDOL.





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