Jordin Sparks Shines Bright
Jordin Sparks didn’t grow up knowing she’d become a global phenomenon, but perhaps she should have seen it coming. After all, it was obvious to millions of viewers tuning in to American Idol in 2007 that this girl had a rare gift. That star quality propelled her to the top spot of the reality series’ sixth season and earned the then 17-year-old singer a place in history as the youngest American Idol winner to date.
But the talented performer didn’t stop making history there. Her self-titled debut album was released later that year and quickly went platinum selling more than two million copies. The album’s singles “Tattoo” and “No Air” (featuring Chris Brown) both cracked the top-ten on the US Billboard Hot 100. “No Air” would go on to earn Sparks her first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals and is currently the third-highest selling single from an American Idolcontestant.
Sparks’ sophomore follow-up, Battlefield, dropped in 2009 and continued the singer’s successful momentum, landing in the #7 spot on the US Billboard 200. The lead single, which carried the same name as the album, quickly slipped into the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned Sparks another historical first as she became the only Idol alum to crack the top 20 with her initial five singles.
Battlefield’s next offering, “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)” had fans running for the dance floor. The song rocketed to the coveted top spot on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart and became Sparks’ first #1.
Desiring to share her full array of talent, Sparks began to pursue additional performance possibilities and made guest appearances on several television series, including The Suite Life on Deck (2009) and Big Time Rush (2010). Her efforts to branch out were also realized in the form of Sparks’ Broadway debut when she snagged the role of Nina Rosario in the musical In the Heights. Though she had no way of knowing at the time, those projects were preparing Sparks for something much bigger – the role of a lifetime.
In 2011, Sparks learned a remake of the classic 1976 film Sparkle was in the works, auditioned, and was soon cast in the musical’s lead role. She was overjoyed to be making her feature-film debut, a feeling that only became more intense when she learned she would be starring alongside one of her own idols – the legendary Whitney Houston, who was also serving as one of the film’s Executive Producers as well.
Sadly, only three months after filming on Sparkle was completed, Houston passed away and the movie that would be Sparks’ first, became an icon’s last.
Though she was devastated to learn of Houston’s death, Sparks is determined that her idol’s final project – one Houston had worked to get off the ground since the 1990s – be a fitting tribute to the fallen icon.
“I think bittersweet would definitely be the word to describe what promoting this movie has been like,” Sparks told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. “It was such a shock to all of us and the world when she passed. She worked on the movie for so long. It was her baby. [The original] was her favorite film. She saw it every Saturday when she was younger, after it came out. It was something she was really passionate about and you can see that on the film. Since she’s not here to say it, I have to be here – and the rest of my cast mates – we have to project this and make it as amazing as we can for her.”
While the film will certainly be a sweet note in the melody of Sparks’ career, the singer has enjoyed other accolades in 2012 as well. She was ranked 92 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Women in Music” and was named one of the year’s “Most Beautiful at Every Age” by People magazine -- proof that this performer’s star will surely sparkle brighter in the days ahead.
Sparkle lands in theatres on August 17.