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Courtesy of: ZAP2IT

Meet Your 'Idol' Top 24

Thursday, February 16, 2006

10:17 AM PT


They come from Albemarle, N.C., and Sherman Oaks, Calif., Levittown, N.Y., and The Woodlands, Texas. And they all can sing a little bit.

After five weeks of auditions and bad singers and cutdowns in Los Angeles, "American Idol" got around to naming the 24 semifinalists in this year's competition on Wednesday night (Feb. 15). The 12 guys and 12 girls will begin singing for viewers next week, with the women performing Tuesday and the men on Wednesday.

That will go on for three weeks, with two people from each group going home in live results shows that will air on Thursdays. Then, finally, the show will move on to its final 12 and the process of picking the fifth American Idol.

Here's a rundown of the 24 semifinalists.

The Women


Paris Bennett, 17, Fayetteville, Ga.; auditioned in Greensboro. Singing is in her blood: Grandmother Ann Nesby is a member of the gospel group Sounds of Blackness.


Ayla Brown, 17, Wrentham, Mass.; auditioned in Boston. In addition to singing, Brown is a talented basketball player and will attend Boston College next year on a hoops scholarship.


Heather Cox, 22, Jonesville, N.C.; auditioned in Denver. You can call her the Singing Accountant, as she was studying accounting before auditioning for "Idol."


Brenna Gethers, 25, Mt. Vernon, N.Y.; auditioned in Boston. She sparred with Simon Cowell during the Hollywood rounds, but Simon might not want to tick her off too much. She holds a black belt in Shotokan karate.


Mandisa, 29, Antioch, Tenn.; auditioned in Chicago. Mandisa has dropped her last name (Hundley) and forgiven Simon for his unkind comments about her weight early on.


Kinnik Sky, 28, Duluth, Ga.; auditioned in Greensboro. The last female to make the top 12, Sky has some acting experience as well, performing in theater productions in the Atlanta area.


Melissa McGhee, 21, Tampa; auditioned in Denver. FOX says she "embarked on her performing career" at the tender age of 4. She also describes herself as a romantic.


Katharine McPhee, 21, Sherman Oaks, Calif.; auditioned in San Francisco. Her mom's a vocal coach, and she has training from the Boston Conservatory.


Becky O'Donohue, 25, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.; auditioned in Boston. If Ayla Brown needs someone to shoot hoops with, O'Donohue would be a good choice; she played Division I basketball at Niagara University.

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Kellie Pickler, 19, Albemarle, N.C.; auditioned in Greensboro. Her country-girl background and singing style have invited comparisons to last year's winner, Carrie Underwood.


Stevie Scott, 19, Fair Oaks, Calif.; auditioned in Denver. She's been performing since age 10 and has recorded since 15. Scott also plays guitar and piano.


Lisa Tucker, 16, Anaheim, Calif.; auditioned in Denver. The high schooler was a member of the the Los Angeles cast of "The Lion King" musical.

The Men


Bobby Bennett, 19, Denver; auditioned in Denver. He's been singing since age 7, though he has little formal training. Prior to auditioning for the show, he worked at Target.


Kevin Covais, 16, Levittown, N.Y.; auditioned in Boston. A high school junior, Covais is a member of the Chorale in New York's Metropolitan Youth Orchestra.


Bucky Covington, 28, Rockingham, N.C.; auditioned in Greensboro. He's been singing in bands since the age of 19 and also plays guitar.


Chris Daughtry, 26, McLeansville, N.C.; auditioned in Denver. Daughtry also plays guitar and has recorded an album with his band, Absent Element. He's married and the stepfather to two kids.


Patrick Hall, 27, Gravette, Ark.; auditioned in Las Vegas. Hall is also married, and he's been pursuing singing while working as a real estate manager.


Taylor Hicks, 29, Birmingham, Ala.; auditioned in Las Vegas. The prematurely gray Hicks showed some skills on the harmonica while awaiting word of his fate Wednesday.


Will Makar, 16, The Woodlands, Texas; auditioned in Austin. As a member of the Houston Children's Chorus, he's sung for two presidents, and he apparently also does a mean Chewbacca impression.


Gedeon McKinney, 17, Memphis; auditioned in Chicago. When he was too young to join his church choir, McKinney sang on the church steps. He attends a performing-arts high school in Memphis.


Jose "Sway" Penala, 28, South San Francisco, Calif.; auditioned in San Francisco. Prior to auditioning for "Idol," Sway was part of a group called 6th Day.


David Radford, 17, Crystal Lake, Ill.; auditioned in Chicago. The junior Rat Packer is a senior in high school and says he's been singing for as long as he can remember.


Elliott Yamin, 27, Richmond, Va.; auditioned in Boston. Yamin says he gets his inspiration from his mom, who's also a professional singer.


Ace Young, 25, Los Angeles; auditioned in Denver. Young grew up in Colorado, and he began performing locally at age 11.

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