'American Idol' bits: Jordan Sasser, Katharine McPhee divorce, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday, February 12, 2016

Jordan Sasser, who was in the top 24, was Atlanta's final hope to win "American Idol" this final 15th season.

The worship leader didn't make it, cut in last night's episode with four others.

The judges didn't particularly like either his solo performance Wednesday of "All By Myself" or his duet with Fantasia Thursday of "I Believe." (Both were actually pre-taped a week earlier.)

But Sasser, in an interview Friday, said he had no regrets in either case.

"I was at peace the moment it happened," he said.

He was just thrilled to be able to work with Fantasia, season three winner. "Some thought I'd be scared and intimidated," he said. "I felt grateful I could learn from her. I don't compare myself to her. We're so different. I'm just going to sing the way I sing. She sings the way she sings. We had a great time together."

The pair even prayed together before their performance, captured on his camera and posted on Instagram. (Jenna Renae took the shot, he said.)

Fantasia, Sasser said, told him to connect with the audience, which may have been why he chose to shake someone's hand during his duet mid-song, cutting in front of her. Harry Connick Jr. admonished him for doing that, implying he was trying to upstage her.

He also defended his choice of "All By Myself." "I wanted to challenge myself," he said. "I did not want to play it safe." When judges said it felt too theatrical, he didn't get fazed. "I respect their opinions but at the end of the day, it's most important how I felt I did." Plus, he felt "99.9%" of people disagreed with the judges. (MJ's Big Blog polled fans and his performance came in dead last, even behind the Emily Brooke debacle.)

When I asked whether the judges failed to see him as a potential pop star, he said he felt his voice was versatile. "When it comes to pop star, I wasn't trying to be something I wasn't. I just wanted to be me. It's hard to go on a show like this and stay true to yourself. There's so much pressure. You have to look this way or think this way. I'm going to sing the way I sing, do the songs I love and not take being sent home as a defeat."

On the bright side, his wife Alex and his baby were there in the audience both nights. She tried out with him but got cut. ("Idol" showed them, o course.) "I felt so much love," he said. "It gave me extra encouragement I needed to do well and have fun."

Overall, "for me, I didn't have to win the show in order to have a good experience. I've learned so much."

Although Sasser moved to metro Atlanta four years ago, he said "Idol' required him to pick a city and he chose his hometown Raleigh. He and his wife travel and sing at different North Point Community Church campuses, including Alpharetta, Buckhead and Decatur.

"My wife and I really want to write music together and figure out what kind of songs and sounds we could put together that would fit both our voices," he said. "We'd love to make an album together. We've got a lot of resources and relationships with very talented people who could help us out. That's one idea. There are many opportunities that could come out of being on 'Idol.' We'll see what happens."


Katharine McPhee attends CBS TV Studios' panel for "Scorpion" during Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 9, 2015 in San Diego, California.

Katharine McPhee finalized her divorce with Nick Cokas after six years of marriage.

According to court documents obtained by ET, the 31-year-old actress will have to pay Cokas, 50, a percentage of her yearly income, up to $400,000.

She filed for divorce in 2014. She had been caught in 2013 kissing "Smash" director Michael Morris. She said she and Cokas had been separated by then. He denied that was the case.


ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 05: Chris Daughtry performs the national anthem prior to the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal between the Connecticut Huskies and the Florida Gators at AT&T Stadium on April 5, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Chris Daughtry, who will appear on "Idol" next week, will play Judas in the upcoming "The Passion" musical on Fox. I don't recall Daughtry doing acting before. Others on the cast include Seal, Michael W. Smith and Yolanda Adams. Tyler Perry will narrate.  It's scheduled to air live March 20.


Kelly Clarkson pointing

Kelly Clarkson has an early favorite to be the "book end" winner: La'Porsha Renae.  This was based on her "Proud Mary" performance:

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About the Author

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