Radio and TV Talk

Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

'American Idol' bits: Fantasia interview, Kelly Clarkson, Katharine McPhee

Posted Saturday, November 4, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

R&B singer Fantasia has always loved Christmas thanks to her late grandmother Addie "Cat" Collins . 

"Her birthday was on Christmas!" said the R&B singer who won season 3 of "American Idol" 13 years ago. "But she gave all the time. Loving people. Encouraging people. Inspiring people. That is the gift she gave every day. She had the best Christmas tree on the street. Her Christmas tree was the bomb!... She's playing Christmas music, the lights would be up, the food would be great. We'd sit down, gather by the fireplace and talk and laugh. And the adults would tell us stories when they were kids."

So this year, she finally recorded a Christmas album "Christmas After Midnight." (It came out last month.)

And there's a tour, too, with an unusual twist. She's hitting bigger venues and pairing them with intimate ones. First up in Atlanta: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre (capacity: 2,750) on November 26. (Tickets here.) On the next night: Atlanta's City Winery (capacity : 310). (Tickets here.)

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"I honestly only wanted to do really small venues," she said. "When you think jazz artists, you think intimate venues where you have a mic, a piano, a couple of horns and drums. I love watching those shows."

But demand, she said, was too great: "We had to do bigger places as well because a lot of people want to come to the show."

The concert will blend Christmas songs and her biggest hits with a jazz feel.

"I was told I couldn't win 'Idol,' " she said. "I did. I was told I couldn't do Broadway. I did it. With this tour, I want to embody jazz. I don't want to dumb it down... When I leave this earth, the work will speak for me. I want people to say, 'There's nothing she couldn't do!' Everybody knows I can get on stage and blaze it down. They know I can do that. But they've never seen this side of me."

The album features covers of a wide variety of Christmas classics previously sung by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, James Brown, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Big Mama Thornton.

She has the ability to take any artist's tune and give it a proper Fantasia jazz/soul spin. "I can do any genre of music," she said. "We did that on 'Idol,' whether it's church, pop, rock, or whatever. I enjoy doing that. In this case, we didn't want to change it up too much. We wanted to keep it simple and find the honesty and truth with these cherished records and make it so dope."

Fantasia, who is married with two kids, said she is a little wistful about past Christmas days. "A lot of families are broken. They're not together like they're used to be. I will be honest. My family is that way. We're not what we used to be when grandmother was alive. [She passed in 2015.] They detoured and started doing their own things."

She performs in Atlanta frequently and even lived here for a year. But she loves her family in North Carolina and now resides in Charlotte.

Fantasia tours a lot because that generates income more than actually selling music. But she has written a lot of her own music so she makes money there, as well as from hair products, movies and Broadway.

She chose not to express her actual opinion about 19 Entertainment bringing back "Idol" so soon on ABC. (Virtually every other "Idol" I've interviewed in recent months said they thought it was too soon.) "I have a lot of opinions I tend to keep some of them to myself," Fantasia said. "I hope they do a very good job."



7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 26, 2017


Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta


8 p.m., Monday, November 27, 2017


City Winery Atlanta

650 North Ave. NE, Suite 201, Ponce City Market



Kelly Clarkson spent more than an hour with Howard Stern on Wednesday talking about her career and her latest album.

She also sang parts of "Since U Been Gone" and "Because of You" as well as "Stronger" and "Love So Soft." She even did a verse and chorus of "A Moment Like This."

Some bits from the interview:

  • Contracts, contracts, contracts. She was stuck with her RCA contract over seven albums, not six. At first, she thought she was free after her Christmas album. But she then had to do one more so that's how "Piece by Piece" came about. Now she's on her new label and doing what she wants to.
  • Finale? What finale? She thought "Idol" would "let it breath" when they said they wanted to bring back the show on ABC just two years after Fox completed a 15-season run. She thought they'd wait five or 10 years. And by the time "Idol" did approach her, she had already committed to "The Voice."
  • Getting over perfectionism: In Ireland, what was coming in her ear was a half-step higher than what was supposed to be correct and she sang the entire concert off key: "I might have thrown a 24-pack of water across the room. I had no control over it. It was God telling me to let it go."
  • Avril Lavigne elbowed her in the face at an awards show. Clarkson said she wasn't sure if Lavigne did it on purpose but she did apologize later. And Lavigne co-wrote her hit song "Breakaway." "I'm still a fan," she said of Lavigne. "I'm not mad about it."
  • She pushed hard for "Miss Independent." She had to throw a major fit to get that song on the album and it became a hit. "I was literally told I'd be the next Whitney Houston and I had to sing ballads. I love Whitney Houston but I didn't want to make that record at the time. Even Whitney Houston got to do 'Queen of the Night.' "
  • Her reaction to "From Justin to Kelly." "I was really hammered. I was mortified."



NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 01: Singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina takes photos before CMT's Next Women of Country on November 1, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)

Lauren Alaina will perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which will air on Thanksgiving morning on NBC. She will get to lip sync one of her songs for about 60 seconds on a float.


Katharine McPhee co-stars in a new Lifetime film airing Saturday, November 4 at 8 p.m. dubbed “The Lost Wife of Robert Durst."

Her character disappeared in 1982 so this is a period piece, mostly set in the 1970s. Durst is played by Daniel Gillies.

From a TV Guide interview:

Did the role change your perspective on what happened to Kathie?

I stand with most people who know about it: He murdered her. One of the writers on Scorpion, Kevin Hynes, used to be a district attorney and worked on this case. After I filmed this, he was able to share his theories. There are a lot of things about the case that people still don’t know about.

(Read more here.)


"Idol" alum chart track (Mediabase 24/7)

"Miles" Phillip Phillips, No. 17, Hot AC

"Five More Minutes," Scotty McCreery, No. 27, Country

"Bleed the Same," Mandisa, No. 23, Christian AC


Clay Aiken Tweet of the week


About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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