Melinda Marie Doolittle (born on October 6, 1977) is an American singer who was the second runner up on the sixth season of American Idol. Doolittle was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Steve and Marguerite Doolittle. She graduated from Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1995. Although she has been singing since the seventh grade, her professional career did not begin until 1999 as a music major from Belmont University. Doolittle sang back-up for Michael McDonald, Anointed, Mandisa, Aaron Neville, Jonny Lang, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Alabama, Julie Wilde, and CeCe Winans. American Idol Audition Doolittle first auditioned for American Idol in Memphis, Tennessee. She sang the song "For Once in My Life", which was popularized by Stevie Wonder, one of her favorite artists. She went down to Memphis with some friends who were auditioning and decided to audition for fun. She was met with admiration from all three judges in response to her audition. They did express concern, however, about the nerves she had exhibited and told her to believe in herself. Semi-finals Doolittle managed to secure herself a spot in the Top 24, who all performed on national television. During her first broadcast performance, Doolittle was highly praised for her rendition of "Sweet Sweet Baby (Since You've Been Gone)", by Aretha Franklin. The following week, Doolittle pulled off another winning performance with the song "My Funny Valentine". According to the judges, it was "without question the best vocal we've had through the competition.", and it ranked #3 in AOL Top 20 Idol Performances. For her last semifinal performance, Doolittle attempted the song "I'm a Woman", causing Simon Cowell to call her "a little tiger," continuing: "I thought we had a pussycat." On March 8, 2007, Doolittle made it into the show's Top 12. Finals * Week 1 - March 13, 2007 with special guest Diana Ross, Doolittle performed Diana Ross' song Home. After her performance, she received an enormous standing ovation that lasted for quite some time. She was once again praised by the judges and even made Paula Abdul cry over how much emotion she showed. After her performance, Simon Cowell proclaimed her as a "fantastic singer," comparing her to a young Gladys Knight. * Week 2 - March 20, 2007 with special guest Lulu, Doolittle sang "As Long As He Needs Me" by Shirley Bassey for Top 11 "British Invasion" week. Once again, she received praises from all three judges, and Simon referred to her vocals as impeccable. Ashley Ferl, a 13 year old girl who achieved fame notably from crying during Sanjaya's performance, was once again shown shedding tears as Doolittle sang. * Week 3 - March 27, 2007 with special guest Gwen Stefani, Doolittle made a change of pace and sang an up tempo song called "Heaven Knows" by Donna Summer. She received praises again, and Randy complimented her on how she knew how to sing like the character would have in the song. Simon said that once again it was another outstanding vocal. * Week 4 - April 3, 2007, with special guest Tony Bennett, she sang "I Got Rhythm". Doolittle received a standing ovation from the audience and critical acclaim from all three judges. Simon, who is known for being very critical, said they would never be able to criticize her. The next night, Melinda, Lakisha Jones and Jordin Sparks were the top three in collecting votes for their performances. * Week 5 - April 10, 2007, with special guest Jennifer Lopez, Doolittle sang "Sway". Randy thought it was solid, but it wasn't her best. Paula gave her a thumbs up, saying that she was sultry and sexy, a side she had never seen in Doolittle before. She then received her first unsatisfactory review on the show, as Simon said "Well, it had to happen Melinda... I didn't like it." He continued, saying that it was "lazy and wooden." Doolittle responded that she was glad he finally got the chance to say something bad about her performance. * Week 6 - April 17, 2007, with special guest Martina McBride, Doolittle sang "Trouble Is A Woman", an up tempo song. She received a positive response from both the audience and all three judges. Randy thought it was once again another solid performance by "our resident pro." Paula said she just knows how to pick the right songs and perform like "there's no tomorrow," and Simon said that it was a fantastic performance, and that he felt like he had seen a bit of a "Tina Turner" side in her. The only criticism that Simon gave was that she needed to lose the shocked look when she gets compliments, attributed to the fact that she was too modest. The following night, Doolittle displayed just how humble she is. Ryan Seacrest had divided the seven contestants into two groups. One contained Jordin Sparks, Phil Stacey, and Chris Richardson; the other was comprised of Sanjaya Malakar, LaKisha Jones, and Blake Lewis. Doolittle was left alone in the middle of the stage with Seacrest, as he told her she was safe. He proceeded to tell her to go to the group she thought was safe. She shook her head and refused; after persistence from Seacrest, she sat down in the middle of the stage. As a result, she received approval from the audience, judges, Seacrest, as well as her fellow contestants. * Week 7 - April 24, 2007 Doolittle sang "There Will Come A Day" by Faith Hill as part of the "Idol Gives Back" special. She again gave a stunning performance, and left Randy speechless as he said: "I don't even know what to say anymore." Paula said that there was "no one like you, you're just magical." Simon joked and asked her if she would look surprised, since he criticized that she looks shocked too often when she receives compliments. He went on to comment that what he liked about the performance was that it wasn't a copycat, and she made him believe that it was as if she had recorded the song originally, and added that it was a "vocal masterclass." * Week 8 - May 1, 2007 She sang "Have a Nice Day" by Bon Jovi. In her introductory video, she noted that she was very uncomfortable with rock music and wasn't sure what to do. In spite of this, she delivered another solid performance prompting Simon to say that her vocal was in another league from any of the other contestants. Paula added that she was a "rock star," and both Randy and Simon also compared her to a young "Tina Turner." * Week 9 - May 8, 2007 For her first performance, Doolittle sang "Love You Inside Out", where, for the first time since Top 8 Latin week and only the second time on her run on Idol, she was given only mixed reviews. Randy and Paula both thought that it was only alright, while Simon commented that he knew that she always gave incredible performances and that this performance wasn't enough compared to her previous efforts, and referred to it more as a "backup" vocal. For her second performance, Doolittle sang "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?", following which the judges' critiques returned to universal praise. Randy said that he knew she had it, and that she is still a resident pro. Paula said that the vocals were great, but she would like to see something more surprising from Doolittle. Simon commented that he did not understand what Paula meant, and proceeded to say that he thought "the second half of the performance just put her in the semifinals next week." * Week 10 - May 15, 2007. For this week, the contestants had to sing three songs: first, a judge's pick, then, an American Idol producer's pick, and lastly, the contestant's own choice. o The first was Randy Jackson's choice: "I Believe in You and Me" by Whitney Houston. All the judges were impressed and Randy complimented that he picked something challenging for Doolittle because he wanted to see how she did, and was proud that she nailed it. He also noted that she "blew it out the box." Simon said that "round one" was hers. All three judges also noted that if she could sing Whitney, she could sing anything. o The second song was the producer's choice: "Nutbush City Limits". Again, the judges were impressed. Randy noted it was another strong performance, Paula called her "fantastic," and Simon noted that he loved "that side of her." This performance was unusual because Doolittle, usually known for her shy, humble personality, was shown grabbing the microphone stand like a rocker and showing a Tina Turner attitude that the judges loved. o Her final song was her own choice, "I'm a Woman", which she also sang during the Top 16 round. Despite messing up her second line of the lyrics, Doolittle was met with universal praise from all three judges. Simon even felt that if anyone deserved to be in the finale because of delivering week to week, she would be the one. o When Ryan Seacrest asked all three judges which contestants they would like to see in the final rounds (Top 2) next week, Randy mentioned he would like to see Doolittle as well as Jordin Sparks. Paula declined to answer, and Simon merely stated that he wanted to see "my girl Melinda." o Doolittle was eliminated on May 16, 2007, after nearly 60 million votes were cast, which surprised many critics and observers, especially Simon Cowell. Simon later noted that he would've happily swapped either finalist, Lewis or Sparks, for Doolittle. He stated that he wanted to see one of them against the "big singer," but later suggested that the reason why Doolittle may have been voted off was because Lewis and Sparks were "much younger," and that younger viewers vote more often than older ones. * On the night of her elimination, Melinda was referred to as one of the greatest singers in the history of the show by the judges as well as Ryan Seacrest. * When former Idol contestants were asked who they thought would win the season on May 10, the vote was almost unanimous: Melinda Doolittle. * Finale Night - Along with the other eliminated nine Idol contestants, Doolittle was invited back to perform for the finale. She had a special performance with Bebe and Cece Winans. She again received a standing ovation from the crowd, as well as all three judges. Notably, Doolittle and seventh place finisher Sanjaya Malakar were the only finalists besides Lewis and Sparks to have featured performances during the telecast. Post-Idol Melinda Doolittle will be part of the American Idols Tour 2007, along with fellow contestants who were in the top 10. Some of her performances included "Proud Mary", which she sang as a duet with Sanjaya Malakar (joked by many critics to compare 'the best and the worst' of Season 6), Supremes tribute with Lakisha Jones, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, which she sang solo. Two days after the American Idol Season Finale, Melinda, along with the other nine top ten contestants, appeared on Larry King Live. In an exclusive interview with Good Morning America, Simon Cowell stated that the season six title of American Idol should have rightfully gone to Melinda. Writer Stephen Holden of The New York Times described her as a "phenomenally gifted, stylistically adroit [...] Gladys Knight-Tina Turner hybrid [who] brings a compelling honesty to every phrase she sings," and predicted a successful post-Idol career for her. Doolittle has stated that she plans to work on a CD, and that it would be "soul music", yet a recording contract has not been confirmed. Melinda along with Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks performed at Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Special where they sang America.[disambiguation needed] It has been confirmed that Doolittle will be joining Michael W. Smith on his upcoming Christmas tour.  On February 3, 2009, Melinda released her debut album, "Coming Back to You." Over thirteen tracks, the long-awaited CD spanned such musical stylings as classic soul, smooth jazz, standards, blues, and gospel. Philanthropy In June 2007, Melinda visited Zambia with Laura Bush and the Malaria No More organization to distribute life-saving bed nets and raise awareness. As part of the trip, she performed with a praise band at the Miracle Life Family Church in Lusaka.
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