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The third season of American Idol premiered on Monday, January 19, 2004, and continued until May 26, 2004. The third season was won by Fantasia Barrino, who defeated Diana DeGarmo by an approximate margin of 2% (1.3 million votes); the vote total (65 million votes) was the highest recorded vote total in the show's history until the May 23, 2007, finale of the sixth season. This season also featured Jennifer Hudson, who finished seventh in the competition. This was the last season to be aired in standard definition, with the only exception being the grand finale. This was the first season where both the winner and the runner-up had been in the bottom 2 or 3 prior to the finale, and the first season to have a finale with two female contestants. It is also the first season where a Wild Card contestant, Leah LaBelle, was eliminated in the first episode of the finals. It was the first season to have a gender imbalance among the finalists, with eight female finalists and four male finalists. Both Fantasia and Diana DeGarmo released a single after the finale. Fantasia's first single, released in June 2004 on the RCA record label, entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number one, making Fantasia the first artist in the history of Billboard to debut at number one with their first single. In addition to Fantasia and DeGarmo, Jasmine Trias, LaToya London, George Huff, Jennifer Hudson, and Camile Velasco have all released albums since the season ended. Leah LaBelle was signed by Epic Records. Changes Unlike previous seasons, this season the semi-finalists performed in front of a small studio audience, with orchestra accompaniment on backing tape. During Top 10 was the first time where there were five judges when the duo Ashford & Simpson joined as judges. Regional auditions Auditions were held in the summer of 2003 in the following cities: In this season over 80,000 attended the auditions in 6 cities. Paula Abdul was absent from the Los Angeles audition. A prominent auditioner was William Hung, a University of California, Berkeley student, who became a surprise cult figure following his tuneless rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" at the San Francisco audition. He was later invited back to perform on a special edition Uncut, Uncensored and Untalented. His appearance on the show landed him a record deal with Koch Records and he released an album soon afterwards.During the audition round in Houston, Texas, auditioner Jonathan Rey threw a cup of water at Simon, who moments earlier commented that he was terrible and "there's not a song in the world you could sing." Security quickly escorted Jonathan out, and Houston police questioned him, but released him after Simon decided against pressing assault charges on him. Other prominent auditioners that year were "scooter girl" Nicole Tieri, and Alan Ritchson who sang to Paula Abdul alone. Hollywood week There were 117 contestants in the first Hollywood round which was held at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, California. The contestants first came onto the stage in groups but each performed solo and talked briefly about themselves. Simon Cowell was not impressed with their performances. They were also asked to write original lyrics and melody for one of ten song titles given and perform their song the next day. After their performance, they were divided into four groups and one group was eliminated. In the next round, the remaining 87 contestants performed in groups in three. The girls and boys were separate and they were each given 3 different songs to choose – Girls with The Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love", Vonda Shepard's "Tell Him", Candi Staton's "Young Hearts Run Free", the boys with Billy Joel's "Tell Her About It", Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", The Drifters's "Up on the Roof". 30 contestants were cut and 57 then advanced to the next stage where they performed solo. The contestants were then divided into three groups and placed in separate rooms, with one group sent home. 32 contestants remained for the semi-finals. Semi-finals The contestants who reached this stage were referred to in the show as the Top 32 finalists. George Huff replaced Donnie Williams in Semifinal Round 4 after Williams was disqualified following a DUI arrest.Unlike previous seasons, this season the contestants performed in front of a small studio audience, with orchestra accompaniment on backing tape. As with the second season, in these rounds, two from each group were selected by public vote to proceed on to the Top 12, and those who failed at any of the previous stages were given a second chance in the wild-card show. During the wild card show, twelve contestants were invited back to participate. However, in a controversial move, after being evaluated during the week in rehearsals, only eight were chosen by the judges to sing that night. Four contestants in the wild card round were eliminated by the judges before they had the chance to sing. They were Lisa Leuschner, Eric Yoder, Tiara Purifoy, and Marque Lynche. Color key: Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Wild Card Finalists Fantasia Barrino (born June 30, 1984, in High Point, North Carolina, aged 19 on the show) auditioned in Atlanta. Her audition songs were Lauryn Hill's "Killing Me Softly with His Song" and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary". She has performed from a young age with her family who had released a CD. She performed Aretha Franklin's "Think" in the Hollywood rounds. At 19 years, 10 months and 26 days, Barrino became the youngest winner in the history of American Idol until Jordin Sparks in the sixth season. Diana DeGarmo (born June 16, 1987, in Birmingham, Alabama, age 16 on the show) is from Snellville, Georgia, and auditioned in Honolulu, Hawaii with Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools". She was on the show America's Most Talented Kid in 2002 as well as other TV shows. She performed Ike & Tina Turner's "A Fool in Love" in the Hollywood rounds. At 16 years, 7 months and 26 days, she was the youngest contestant reach into the finals until Thia Megia and Lauren Alaina made to the finals in the tenth season. She was also the youngest runner-up in the history of American Idol. Jasmine Trias (born November 3, 1986, in Honolulu, 17 on the show) is from Mililani, Hawaii and auditioned in Honolulu. She is the first Asian American contestant in American Idol who made it to the final three, followed by Jessica Sanchez in the eleventh season. LaToya London (born December 29, 1978, in San Francisco, 25 on the show) is from Oakland, California and auditioned in San Francisco with Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools". George Huff (born November 4, 1980, in New Orleans, aged 23 on the show) auditioned in Houston, Texas with Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful". He performed Luther Vandross' "Here and Now" in the Hollywood rounds. John Stevens (born July 28, 1987, in Buffalo, New York, 16 on the show) is from East Amherst, New York and auditioned in New York City.... Discover the Braxton Degarmo popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Braxton Degarmo books.

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