Encore Presentation: 15 American Idols

A look back at the show's memorable (and sometimes forgettable) winners.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Kelly Clarkson. Carrie Underwood. Jennifer Hudson. All singing superstars thanks to a little show called "American Idol." Premiering in 2002, the Fox competition series would run for 15 seasons and launch the careers of dozens of contestants. But with its popularity (and ratings) flagging, the network made the decision to pull the plug in 2016.

Not even two years later, though, the show is back for an encore performance starting March 11, this time on ABC's stage. "American Idol" returns with original host Ryan Seacrest and new judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, who hope to discover the next big thing. But before they do, here's a refresher on the American Idols who've come before...

Kelly Clarkson, 2002 SGranitz/WireImage Kelly Clarkson, 2002 The show's very first winner was a plucky 20-year-old from Burleson, Texas. She's sold some 25 million albums since and starred in one box-office flop (2003's "From Justin to Kelly," with her "Idol" runner-up, Justin Guarini). Clarkson also recently secured a panel seat on a different reality competition series — "The Voice" on NBC.
Ruben Studdard, 2003 SGranitz/WireImage Ruben Studdard, 2003 The Alabama native (right) earned a Grammy nomination in 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his version of the oft-covered song "Superstar," and has released six studio albums. He also appeared on the 15th season of "The Biggest Loser." Fantasia Barrino, 2004 Ray Mickshaw/WireImage Fantasia Barrino, 2004 The season 3 winner — who easily bested seventh-place finisher Jennifer Hudson — has been nominated for 11 Grammys, winning Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 2011. She also played Celie in the Broadway musical "The Color Purple," which earned her a 2007 Theatre World Award. Carrie Underwood, 2005 Kevin Winter/Getty Images Carrie Underwood, 2005 Arguably the most successful "American Idol" winner of all time, the Oklahoma native has sold 65 million records worldwide and racked up an impressive trophy case: seven Grammys, 15 Billboard Music Awards, 12 ACM Awards, 11 American Music Awards, and eight CMA Awards. And if she weren't already busy enough, Underwood starred as Maria in NBC's "The Sound of Music Live! " in 2013 and launched her own fitness apparel line, CALIA, in 2015. (Seriously, when does she sleep?!)
Taylor Hicks, 2006 Jason Merritt/FilmMagic Taylor Hicks, 2006 The season six champion — he beat out "Smash" star Katharine McPhee — was the first "Idol" winner to score a long-term Las Vegas residency. (Let's hear it for the Soul Patrol!) He also played Teen Angel in the national tour of "Grease" in 2009. Jordin Sparks, 2007 Lester Cohen/WireImage Jordin Sparks, 2007 Sparks became the youngest winner in the show's history at just 17 years old. She's released three studio albums, has performed on Broadway, and even has her own perfume line. David Cook, 2008 M. Caulfield/American Idol 2008/WireImage David Cook, 2008 The season seven winner had released one independent album prior to appearing on the show. His first post-"Idol" album — titled, appropriately enough, "David Cook" — went platinum.
Kris Allen, 2009 Kevin Winter/American Idol 2009 Kris Allen, 2009 Like Cook, season eight winner Allen — he beat out Adam Lambert for the title — had also released one album prior to appearing on "Idol." He's released five albums to date. Lee DeWyze, 2010 Handout/Getty Images Lee DeWyze, 2010 Prior to his win, DeWyze had released two independent albums, and he's released five studio albums. Scotty McCreery, 2011 Kevin Winter/American Idol 2011/Getty Images Scotty McCreery, 2011 The season 10 winner's 2011 debut album, "Clear as Day," went platinum. In July 2017, he became the first country artist to chart a song without the backing of a record label.
Phillip Phillips, 2012 Mark Davis/Getty Images Phillip Phillips, 2012 Phillips earned the all-time best selling song from "American Idol" with his earworm "Home." (Seriously, if you watched the 2012 Olympics, you probably still have the lyrics memorized). He's released three albums in total. Candice Glover, 2013 FOX Candice Glover, 2013 The third time was the charm for the season 12 winner: She auditioned for "American Idol" three times before finally being selected for the show. Glover released her album, "Music Speaks," in 2014 and made her Broadway debut in 2017 in the Christmas musical “Home For The Holidays.” Caleb Johnson, 2014 Kevin Winter/Getty Images Caleb Johnson, 2014 The season 13 winner — who also auditioned three times — made some "Idol" history by becoming the first finalist to never land in the bottom three before reaching the finale. He released his debut album, "Testify," in August of the same year.
Nick Fradiani, 2015 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Nick Fradiani, 2015 Before he won the 14th season of "American Idol," Fradiani helped the band Beach Avenue win a regional Battle of the Bands as their lead singer in 2011. The band competed on the ninth season of "America's Got Talent," but didn't become a finalist. He's released one solo album, "Hurricane." Trent Harmon, 2016 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images Trent Harmon, 2016 Harmon is the 15th and final winner of the original "American Idol." He'd originally auditioned for "The Voice" and was picked from more than 32,000 contestants, but his audition never made it to air. He released his five-track EP in December 2016.
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