Since it ended up being such a big deal last season, I thought I’d get a jump early on some of the contestants in this American Idol competition with ties to Christian music. If you believe the spoiler rumors, a few have even made it through to the Top 24.
But first: I took a lot of flak from non-Christians last year for following the Christian contestants, so before you get yourself worked into a frenzy, remember: this is a Christian music blog, so it makes sense to follow those contestants with ties to Christian music. I do cover everyone and don’t vote based on religion, but this is a post that will speak specifically about contestants with ties to Christian music. So if this somehow bothers you or freaks you out, maybe you should find another Idol blog to follow.
Phew, thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
And here we go: contestants so far who are worship pastors, have ties to Christian music, or credit their faith with their talent. (If I missed someone or have incorrect or incomplete info, please do let me know):

TIM URBAN – Christian/alternative singer songwriter from Dallas; performed at Six Flags in TX and also has listed quite a few shows at The Door, a club that says, ” Religion, philosophy, entertainment and belief systems are inseparable”. Tim was added to the Top 24 after Chris Golightly was disqualified.
VERED “DIDI” BENAMI – Didi Benami credits God first for everything; attended Belmont University, where she met best friend and inspiration, Rebecca Joy Lear; Didi says on her MySpace page, “It was destiny and God’s work” that brought the friends together; Rebecca was killed in a car accident in 2005.
HAELEY VAUGHN – lists herself a “Christian/other” on her MySpace page; said repeatedly last night “I’m blessed, I’m blessed”.
PAIGE MILES – According to a Fox press release, Paige started singing in church when she was just 5

LACEY BROWN (Orlando auditions) – Lacey made it to Hollywood’s top 54 in Season 8, and was sent home after a sing off with Megan Joy Corkrey. When asked this season by the judges if she thought it was the right decision, she said yes, that she needed another year to prepare. Lacey’s parents are co-pastors at Victory Church in Amarillo, Texas, where Lacey serves at the venue director for the college age members. On the church’s website, Lacey says, “I have a heart for the un-reached college aged generation here in Amarillo and in Canyon. I love showing them that God is a real God and so we, as Christ followers, should be real too! I work at showing people that they can be themselves, not the person people have labeled them to be but the original, creative, non- compromising person that God created them to be!”
MICHELLE DELAMOR (Orlando auditions) – Michelle is a soloist with the Unity of the Bay choir, where I’ll go out on a limb and assume Michelle is a member. The mission of the music ministry is “To heal, enlighten and minister through music in order to inspire and transform our world.”
ASHLEY MAKAILAH RODRIEGUEZ (Boston auditions)– Ashley is a 21 year old student from Boston, MA who attended Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music. She toured with the school’s gospel group Overjoyed. You can visit Ashley Rodriguez’s MySpace page
JERMAINE SELLERS (Atlanta auditions) – This 26 year old from Joliet, IL finished third in 2007 on BET’s Gospel competition, “Sunday Best” and says he’s “working on a new show with BET called 106 & Park Generation Gospel”. Jermaine toured for a year and a half with pop artist Monica and currently cares for his mother, who suffers from spina bifida.. You can learn more on Jermaine’s MySpace page
TODRICK HALL (Dallas auditions) – Todrick Hall started singing and dancing in church and has toured with the show The Color Purple. But he has has some problems with his own show Oz: The Musical, which reportedly had financial and credibility problems. Former Idol Diana DeGarmo was promoted as being in the production, something she assured media she had never agreed to.
MARK LABRIOLA – Former vocalist/guitarist for the Christian band, Foolish Things. From his MySpace: “Mark has been signed to a major record deal, had a nationally released album, was on the top 100 itunes charts and has had a top 25 music single on Christian radio.” Mark had a bit of a meltdown, begging for another chance, when he was told he wasn’t going through after the group round. Probably not his finest hour, which is why Idol featured it.
TORI KELLY (Denver auditions) – this 16 year old from Canyon Lake, CA won America’s Most Talented Kids in 2004 and was briefly signed to Geffen Records. On her MySpace page, Tori lists as her influences: Ephesians 5:19-20 “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” and 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Be joyful always.”
TASHA LAYTON (Los Angeles auditions) – 26 year old Tasha Layton is a personal assistant by day and a minister by night. Tasha’s a member at The Fountain Four Square Church in Moorpark, CA. Tasha made it through to the third round in Hollywood week, but was sent home. I would have liked to have seen her go through; I think she’s got a great voice.
BEN HONEYCUTT (Atlanta auditions) Ben is the former lead singer of the Christian rock band Candlefuse. I know I’ve met him before at some GMA event or another. The band has been around for a while looking for their big break. The band members parted ways in 2008 because they felt God had different things for them, and Ben is pursuing a solo career.
JUSTIN WILLIAMS (Boston auditions) – This 27 year old singer from Sandy, UT was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago while on Mormon mission in Spain. He’s cancer free today. Justin has won the John Lennon Songwriting Competition and performed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as the winner of the national talent competition. Learn more at Justin Williams at
LEAH LAURENTI (Boston auditions) – This 24 year old from Medford, NY says she grew up in church and didn’t listen to mainstream music. You get the sense that perhaps her church background is a bit legalistic or sheltered. You can follow Leah Laurenti on Twitter or join her “Leah Laurenti for American Idol” fan page on Facebook.
JIM RANGER (Los Angeles auditions) – Jim Ranger is a worship pastor and father of three from Bakersfield, CA, who sings an original song. At his audition, guest judge Avril Lavigne shared her … um … years of experience and questioned whether Jim could handle life on the road. (As if a worship pastor or leader can’t compete? Hello? Remember Danny Gokey? Kris Allen?)
DAVE PITTMAN (Dallas auditions) – Twenty seven year old Dave Pittman struggles with Tourettes, a neurological disorder that causes twitches, throat clearing and other problems. Dave is a graduate of Liberty University, where he sang with the Crimson Flood music ministry team.
JESS WOLFE (Boston auditions) I’m not sure about Jess Wolfe, but the Brooklyn, NY singer auditioned with the song “People Get Ready”. I’m not sure an artist would sing about people getting ready for Jesus to come if they weren’t Christian, but hey, you never now. I thought it was at least worth mentioning. Jess is also in the band Lucius. You can learn more about her music on Jess Wolfe’s MySpace page or the site for her band, Lucius.
SETH ROLLINS (Orlando auditions) – Seth Rollins started singing specials at his family’s church, Living Waters Worship Center in Gambrills, Maryland; met his wife Stephanie while on a missions trip in 1991; married in 2001, the couple has two children: Samuel (born 2005) and Faith (2009); Samuel diagnosed with autism in 2007. On his website, Seth’s bio describes him this way: “Seth Rollins is an aspiring singer/songwriter with a desire to use music as a way to bring people together, breaking down walls of tradition to bring a modern yet deep word to the church today. His style of worship is at times reminiscent of Israel Houghton, while still embracing additional styles … You may have never heard of Seth Rollins before today, but rest assured that being at the feet of Jesus under this mans ministry is a place you will never forget.”
ALEX NESTOR (Denver auditions) Alex was named the 2000 Outstanding Female Vocalist at the LA Music Awards, and in 2001 was diagnosed with lymphoma, sending her down a completely different path than she’d planned. Cancer free thanks to chemo and prayer, Alex is headed to Hollywood. She’s been lauded by artists such as Zoro, outspoken Christian and drummer for drummer for Lenny Kravitz and Bobby Brown.
The list is being updated regularly, so let me know what information you have, including links to fan pages!
American Idol contestant Justin Williams was also a Season 8 contestant
Boston Auditions – blogging live play-by-play
Boston Auditions – recap
Atlanta audtions – Blogging live play-by-play
Auditions Recap – Vanessa Wolf, Jermaine Sellers, Holly Harden, Miriam Lemnouni, Noel Reese, and Pants on the Ground
Chicago auditions – Blogging live
American Idol Season 9 Chicago auditions recap – Angela Martin, Charity Vance, Katelyn Epperly, John Park and boob boxing
American Idol Season 9 Los Angeles auditions – Blogging live!
American Idol Season 9 Dallas auditions – Blogging live!
American Idol Season 9 Spoiler Alert: Is this the Top 24?
American Idol: so how do those auditions really work, anyway?
nver.html” target=”_blank”>American Idol Season 9 Denver auditions
Got a gospel or Christian music news tip? Send me an email!
Click here to subscribe to Gospel Soundcheck by email and have the Gospel Soundcheck headlines delivered daily to your email inbox. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!
More from Beliefnet and our partners