American Idol Season 8- The Christians

Now that we are just past the halfway mark on American Idol Season 8′s live competition, let’s take a few minutes to remember the Christian music artists who made it to the Top 36 and see what we can find out about what they are doing.  At one21music we identified 10 Christian music artists who made it to the Top 36 and six of those made it to Top 13.  The contestants on American Idol Season 8 are barred from singing on their own until June because of their contract with the TV show.  That limits a lot of information about these American Idol contestants.

Some of them made it through, some of them didn’t, but these are the artists we discovered through the search to find the believers in American Idol

Felicia Barton

Felicia BartonProbably the biggest tragedy of American Idol Season 8 was that Felicia Barton did not receive a fair chance to succeed.  She was all but invisible throughout the tryouts and Hollywood Week and she was eliminated in the mansion.  However, she was rushed to Hollywood at the last minute to replace JoAnne Pacitti in the Top 36 .  Her wonderful performance of Alicia Keys “No One” was mostly ignored by the judges and she was not selected for the Wild Card show. Barton, a wife and mother who has served as the minister of music at her church also has performed on the boardwalk in her hometown of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Post American Idol interviews have revealed a believer with a great amount of gratitude for her American Idol opportunity and a wealth of confidence in the possibilities for her future in the music business.

In an interview with the Virginian-Pilot just after she returned form Hollywood, Felicia Barton said:

“I don’t think I cried. Maybe a couple days later, but not right away. You know, I really had a lot of peace about what was going on, and I feel really blessed to have gotten back in the competition, you know. Just that opportunity to sing in front of 30 million people.”

Felicia Barton has been back to Hollywood and to Nashville to record songs and work on a recording contract.  We are waiting to hear new songs on myspace pretty soon.  In the meantime, you can download Felicia Barton singing Alicia Key’s “No One” on iTunes.  Follow the link at the bottom of the page and I will show you how.

Ricky Braddy

rickbraddyA gospel singer and Commercial Music major at Belmont University made it to the Wild Card but was not chosen by the judges to be one of the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  His performance of “A Song for You” in the Top 36 elimination show earned him a standing ovation from Paula Abdul, who was a big fan.  Michael Slezac of entertainment Weekly is still grousing over Ricky Braddy’s early departure from American Idol Season 8.

Ricky Braddy possesses a pure, clear singing voice and a great falsetto.  In the Wild Card round he performed Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” but it was not enough to propel him into the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  Ricky maintains a Facebook and Myspace page and is a frantic Tweeter.  He is currently traveling between Atlanta and Nashville writing music and working on a record contract.

Ricky created a little stir on American Idol when a fan website using the name the “Braddy Bunch” emerged to push his chances on American Idol.  His parents showed up on his first live performance wearing Braddy Bunch tshirts and the website received a “cease and desist” order from the producers of American Idol.

Mishavona Henson

mishavonaThis seasoned 18 year old singer/actor came onto American Idol as a returning American Idol contestant (she made it to Hollywood in Season 7) who had television acting credits (Frasier) and an EP  (From the Edge of The World Mishavonna Henson ).  In August of 2008, Mishavonna Henson received the “Certificate of Merit Award” for female vocal solo at the Assemblies of God “National Fine Arts Festival” in North Carolina.

Apparently, Mishavonna Henson has received permission to perform a benefit with Debbie Gibson for the Gibson Girl Foundation which provides scholarships for talented youth to attend Gibson’s Electric Youth Summer Camp. She is already working on her second cd.

Her Top 36 live performance was Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” and, as a result of that performance the song shot back into the iTunes 100, peaking at 15.  Here is the young girl, fully recovered from her experience and enjoying a day with her friends.

Kristen MacNamara

kristen macnamaraA veteran of Star Search and Nashville Star before she auditioned for American Idol Season 8, Kristen MacNmara has been pursuing her career since she moved from California to Branson, Missouri to work as a musician in this country music mecca.

Kristen McNamara first gained fame on American Idol Season 8 when her Hollywood Week group’s meltdown was the centerpiece of one of the episodes.   Kristen  sang “Give Me One More Reason” in her Top 36 live performance and received very little love from the judges and did not receive enough votes to make it to the Top 13.

Kristen McNamara is one of the founders of L.A.U.G.H., an organization promoting personal missions.

Kristen has a channel on youtube called Kmactv, which is a set of videos following the adventures of her and her friends as they goof around.  There is no update on her myspace and we were unable to find any articles.  However, her myspace page does say that she is signed to 19 Entertainment (the company that produces American Idol).  Based on Internet chatter, that must have happened right around the time she was eliminated.

Michael Sarver

michael arverA fan favorite, Michael Sarver made it into the Top 10 of American Idol Season 8, so we will see him on the American Idol Live tour.   He shocked audiences when he was voted in over American Idol front runner Anoop Desai in round 1 of the Top 12 selection show.  He then survived the elimination of Jasmine Murray, Jorge Nunez and Alexis Grace before his performance of “Ain’t to Proud (To Beg)” failed to earn him enough votes to continue.

A worship leader at the Harvest Church in Jasper, Texas, Michael Sarver started his American Idol quest with a hope to leave his life as an oilfield worker behind.  As I wrote in our article on Michael Sarver, his American Idol Season 8 journey became a healing process for a town torn and embarrassed by racial issues.  Many believe Michael Sarver has become the image of a new Jasper, He has put Jasper back on the map in a positive way and we appreciate all the help he has done to make Jasper alive again,” said Jasper Council Member Terrya Norsworthy.

Michael Sarver returned home to large crowds in both Jasper and his hometown of Sulphur, Louisiana.  He has already signed a record deal and expects to return to Los Angeles within a few weeks to start recording his debut album.

Scott MacIntyre

scott-macintyreThe most recent Christian music artist to exit American Idol Season 8, Scott made it to 8th place.  Scott MacIntyre was difficult to judge.  His singing did not measure up to that of the other American Idol Season 8 performers, but he possesses a certain intangible that the judges and the audience could not deny.

Scott MacIntyre is a world class classical musician who has received dozens of national and international awards for piano, composition and vocal.  He was  the recipient of the Marshall scholarship, Fulbright scholarship (to the UK), USAToday All-USA Academic First Team and was a Rhodes Finalist for Arizona.  Scott studied in London, England where he obtained his masters degree in Performance Studies from the Royal College of Music and Royal Holloway University of London at the age of 19. He was also accepted to both Oxford and Cambridge for further graduate-level research.

Scott MacIntyre has been featured and  profiled on CNN, Sky News Europe, USA Today, and other media as pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. He has independently released 6 full-length CD’s and has written in genres spanning pop, rock, punk, jazz, and classical.  You can buy Scott’s punk rock CD with his group The Glutes at iTunes by clicking here The Glutes

To top things off , Scott MacIntyre told Access Hollywood, “I say blindness is only half of my story, I’ve been through so much more than that.” He added, “I dealt with kidney failure for two years. It’s something that I intentionally didn’t bring up on this show because, you know, the blindness is obvious, but I didn’t want to be voted for based on my challenges.” The 23-year-old singer was diagnosed with the disease in 2005. He then went to London and got a master’s degree in music, but had to return home to have emergency dialysis. In 2007, Scott MacIntyre was lucky enough to find a kidney donor: his former piano instructor from Arizona State University.

That leaves us with the final four Christina music artists competing on American Idol Season 8.

Danny Gokey

danny-gokeyA favorite since he auditioned, Danny Gokey has performed at the top of the American Idol chart every single week.  Others have peaked above him but have fallen back behind him the next week.  Danny has been the best or second best performance in every week of the competition.

His Hollywood Week group performance of “Somebody To Love” was the best of the season.  Danny Gokey hit the live competition with the Mariah Carey song “Hero” and tore down the house causing whooping screaming adulation from the judges.  He has maintained that level of excellence each week since.

In listening to the exit interviews, Danny Gokey is mentioned more than any other contestant as one of the nicest people in the mansion.  From the outside in, it seems he has put a lot of effort into developing strong personal relationships with as many of the other performers as possible.

Danny Gokey has a natural likability, a unique gravel, but soulful voice and ease about himself that draws America to him.  He is certainly one of four remaining contestants that should be considered a favorite for the Top 2.

Kris Allen

Kris AllenJust the opposite of Danny, Kris Allen flew under the radar into the American Idol Season 8 Top 13.  This quiet business major from small town Arkansas was considered a handsome, good singer but no one really new.  We got our first glimpse of Kris Allen’s interpretive skills when he chose Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror”.  In Kris’s hands this song took on a more epic arc.

The second peak happened when Kris Allen made us forget Garth Brook’s ever sang “To Make You Feel My Love”.

Then it happened.  With his amazing arrangement of “Ain’t No Sunshine” Kris Allen burst to the front of numerous American Idol Season 8 power rankings.  His only misstep was last week.

Kris Allen has the looks, the music skills, the voice and the arranging insight to win American Idol Season 8.  He needs to continue to push himself to have as much confidence in himself as we all do.

Matt Giraud

84635271Simon described Matt Giraud as a musical yo-yo and he was right.  Matt has had some brilliant performances of classic R&B songs.  But he has also had some of the worst performances of the year when he took on Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”  and The Fray’s “You Found Me”.  The first performance nearly cost him a spot in the Top13.  The judges saved him in the  Wild Card round but his journey to the American Idol Season 8 Top 7 has been rocky.  He has been in the bottom 3 four times and the bottom 2 twice.

Matt Giraud is a dueling piano player from Michigan who had two R&B CDs under his belt that proclaimed his faith.  We found some wonderful testimonials from his fans on the Internet.  Matt is a great singer who has strong, soulful sensibility and the ability to deliver his falsetto with feeling.

Right now the general consensus is that Matt Giraud has fallen behind and has little chance of winning American Idol Season 8.  He has the talent to win, but he cannot afford another slip and he needs to deliver a couple of breakthrough performances.

Lil Rounds

lil-roundsFinally, we come to the displaced mother of two.  Lil Rounds emerged as a front-runner in the American Idol Season 8 auditions when Randy compared her to Fantasia and Mary J Blige.  She soared through Hollywood Week and she dazzled in the Top 36 selection show when she sang “Be with You”.  She seemed unstoppable with her combination of powerful vocals, keen rhythmic sense, good looks and great back story.

However, something happened on the way to the confetti party.  Starting with Grand Ole Opry week Lil Rounds started to drift away.  First, she sang well but added little to the songs.  The last two weeks her vocals have even started to falter and she is in serious trouble.

Her position on American Idol Season 8 has become so precarious that website “votefortheworst”  has taken Lil Rounds on as their latest cause.  One more shaky performance and Lil Rounds could be headed back to Memphis.

You can download full length studio recording each one of these Christian music artists performances, including those by American IdolFelicia Barton, Ricky Braddy, Mishavonna Henson and Kristen McNamara. When you click through to the itunes store, look just below the text and above the Top 13 photos and you will see a link to the Top 36 performances.

Apple iTunes

It has been a wonderful American Idol.   Season 8 has seen an unprecedented number of Christian music artists move further than we have ever experienced before.  This bodes well for us Christians looking for pop music over the next few years that embodies our hope and faith.


  1. Great recap of everyone Chuck!

  2. tyler h says:

    oh man, i gotta listen to the glutes when i can, have you heard it?

  3. i might not be able to make live comments tonight..the family have computer projects..


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