For thousands of hopefuls across the country, landing a Top 12 spot on American Idol is a dream come true. But what happens after the show when the mansion dwellers leave LA and head back home?
For some contestants, post-Idol life is better than expected. Just look at Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood with her multiple Billboard and Country Music Awards. Or Season 3’s Jennifer Hudson who, despite coming in seventh place, still landed herself an Oscar for her role in the musical Dreamgirls.
Sadly, it’s not all fame and fortune for everyone who’s graced the Idol stage. While most former contestants say they don’t regret doing the show, many have found themselves in musical purgatory, playing coffeehouse gigs and unable to complete a record.
Dying to know what your past Idols are up to now? Here, we catch up with Season 9’s Crystal Bowersox...
THEN: A 24-year-old single mom from Ohio, who performed at cafes and train stations.
POST-IDOL: After Idol, Crystal signed with 19 Entertainment and Jive Records. Six months later, she released her first album Farmer’s Daughter to mixed reviews. Allmusic gave it only 2.5 out of 5 stars, though the album debuted at #28 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In October 2011, Jive Records disbanded, transferring many of its artists over to RCA Records. Bowersox, however, did not make the move and she was left without a label. That same month, Crystal made her acting debut on ABC's Body of Proof. (You can watch her episode here!)
NOW: Bowersox and her boyfriend, Brian Walker, married at the Uncommon Ground Cafe in Chicago where they met six years earlier. They live on a farm outside of Portland, Oregon, along with her 3-year-old son, Tony. Though Crystal is still unsigned and has not released an album since 2010, she recently confirmed via Twitter that she’s back in the studio working on her next album with songwriter and producer Jono Manson.