Two of the judges were "American Idol" alums Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, the only known married couple among "Idol" alums. DeGarmo came in second season three of "Idol" behind winner Fantasia in 2004 while Young finished seventh during season five, the show's highest-rated season to date that featured the likes of winner Taylor Hicks, runner-up Katharine McPhee (now starring in CBS's "Scorpion"), country star Kellie Pickler, Christian artist Mandisa and pop-rocker Chris Daughtry.
DeGarmo, a mere 16 years old in 2004 but already a veteran on the local music circuit, was the toast of Snellville that spring. We at the AJC covered her so extensively as she competed on the show that we literally had two reporters following her: me and my colleague Jennifer Brett, who was a Gwinnett County reporter at the time. (Miraculously, Brett - now the Buzz reporter - and I are still here at the AJC.)
She is now 30, lives in Nashville and has spent much of the past decade touring in various Broadway and theater productions across the country and the world. (Her last show "Jekyll and Hyde" took her to South Korea for an extended run.)
Young has written songs for others including Daughtry and has done his own fair share of theater. The two actually met and fell in love during a production of "Hair." Young proposed on the "Idol" stage. They have now been married four years.
I caught up with the ebullient couple Saturday morning after they helped pick the winner Tyson, who sang a Pearl Jam song with an impressive Eddie Vedder-esque rock voice.
To celebrate their fourth-year anniversary, the couple spent time vacationing in Japan, hitting Kyoto and Tokyo. "Bucket list!" DeGarmo said. "Food and alcohol galore!" Young said.
As for judging Atlanta Idol, "I'm glad we were available," she said. "Life is crazy right now. You have to come home and support your hometown folks." She still has her mom here, along with friends and family.
They were as surprised as many that "Idol" is back so quickly after Fox ended the series after 15 seasons in 2016.
"Didn't we just have a memorial service?" DeGarmo said.
"I'm more excited about what ABC does with the show we already love," Young said. "They feel they can do it better. I'm curious to see what they bring to the table."
Both DeGarmo and Young are working on new music - separately. "Diana is definitely her own artist and so am I as well," Young said.
They do occasionally goof around on Instagram stories, writing a short song about the pains of Atlanta traffic. (They sang a bit of it for the other judges earlier in the day.) "It takes as long to get from Nashville to Atlanta as it does from Atlanta to Snellville," DeGarmo mused, only slightly exaggerating.
DeGarmo notes how Atlanta has grown into an acting mecca. She herself has done TV and film including a stint on "The Young and the Restless." Young is doing his first acting job on a horror movie, he said.
She is currently finishing up an EP set to come out Labor Day dubbed "Gemini," first of three parts. She said it's not a particular genre. Young went through a phase when he didn't know what to say. He's now opting for positive songs, in an R&B sexy mode.
They enjoyed judging this competition but it wasn't naturally easy for either of them. "I loved it and hated it all at the same time," DeGarmo said.
"It brought back everything that we were uncomfortable," Young said.
"We've been there. We know how nerves can affect you or singing before noon is hard," DeGarmo said. (One contestant had done a three and a half hour concert the night before and could barely talk but managed to finish in the top six.)
"Wouldn't it be cool if we saw someone today who goes on to win?" Young said.
We finished our discussion regarding her Instagram page which is DianeDYoung instead of DianaDeGarmo. Some other person grabbed her name and she hasn't been able to get it back. (Ace on the other hand was able to convince a dude who had his Instagram name of AceYoung first to give it to him.)
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