Jordin Sparks opt

For an array of reasons, “Sparkle” has been one of the most highly anticipated movies of the last few years, all the more so in the African-American community. Its success is guaranteed in that it was the last film of the late megastar Whitney Houston, and a project that was near and dear to her heart.

But the media and the public are also focused on Jordin Sparks, who is the lead character in the film, the role Irene Cara had in the 1976 original, which also starred Lonette McKee, the actress/singer from Detroit.

Sparks, at the age of 17, was the season six winner on “American Idol,” the show that has been a career launcher for a substantial number of singers, including Jennifer Hudson (who won an Oscar for her first film role, in “Dreamgirls”), Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, Kimberley Locke and Chris Daughtry.

Simon Cowell, by far the toughest “Idol” judge, praised Sparks for her growth, saying, “Jordin was the most improved over the whole season. She didn’t start out the best, but midway through was the girl who suddenly got momentum.”

High praise indeed from the often acerbic judge.

After her “American Idol” victory, Sparks recorded her first album (titled “Jordin Sparks”) in late 2007 which was well received by the public. In fact, it was certified Platinum by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling a milliion copies.

Sparks received another major boost when superstar Alicia Keys invited her to be the opening on the North American leg of her tour. Sparks remarked that it was exciting and gratifying to have audiences singing along with her, knowing all the words. A throat problem meant cancelling shows, but once that was taken care of, she rejoined the tour for overseas shows, including Australia and New Zealand.

Jordin Sparks has made a drastic physical transformation since the “American Idol” era. She has lost 50 pounds and has “glammed up” considerably, enough to put her in the same league as Beyoncé.

Sparks, like so many young artists today, has become an entrepreneur, including her own clothing line and her own fragrance.

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