Diana DeGarmo competed against some of the most powerful vocalists ever to set foot on the "American Idol" (Fox, 2002-16) stage, herself emerging as a dynamic entertainer of the stage and screen. Diana DeGarmo was born on June 16, 1987 in Birmingham, AL and raised in Snellville, GA. As a child, DeGarmo participated in various beauty pageants, talent contests, and local theater productions. She honed her vocal skills by regularly singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" in school and at major sporting events in town, which reportedly earned her the nickname "the national anthem girl." DeGarmo first impressed a nationwide audience in 2002 as a finalist on "America's Most Talented Kids" (NBC, 2003-04). That same year, the aspiring singer won the title of Miss Teen Georgia. DeGarmo was 16 years old when she auditioned for the third season of the hit reality competition show, "American Idol." After several rounds of auditions, she landed in the coveted Top 12, which also included more seasoned belters such as Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson. The young and fresh-faced DeGarmo held her own against the powerhouse divas and soulful crooners of her season, performing classic tracks such as Aretha Franklin's "Think" (1968), Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" (1997), and Vicki Sue Robinson's disco hit "Turn the Beat Around" (1976).
DeGarmo's vocal skills and charming personality won over the tough "Idol" judges and millions of viewers all the way to the season finale, where she faced off with North Carolina native Barrino. In the end, DeGarmo was edged out by Barrino's show-stopping vocals and the young singer landed in second place. After joining her season's finalists for the "American Idols" concert tour, DeGarmo released her first solo release, Blue Skies in 2004. The album debuted at No. 52 on the Billboard charts and then quickly declined. DeGarmo decided to go back to her roots and compete on the first season of "Gone Country" (CMT, 2008-09), where artists from various genres attempt a career in country music. She next set her sights on Broadway, debuting in 2006 with a role as the nerdy sidekick Penny Pingleton in "Hairspray" (2002). A natural on stage, DeGarmo landed more roles in musical theater, including the lead in the 2006 national touring production of "Brooklyn: The Musical," the Broadway revival of "Godspell" in 2008, and a featured role as college student and political activist Sheila in the Broadway revival of "Hair" (1968). In 2010, DeGarmo joined the national touring production of "9 to 5," taking on the role originated by Dolly Parton in the 1980 comedy film.