Powerhouse voices crush male domination of "Idol"


This is the time when Fox seizes the TV spotlight. My previous blog looked at the network's fall plans, including news for fans of "24," TV comedies, "American Idol" and the "Fringe" producers. The one before that viewed Angie Miller, a strong talent who finished third on "Idol."

Now let's go to the big one -- the "Idol" finale on Wednesday and Thursday (May 15-16). Here's the story I sent to papers:

By MIKE HUGHES

Long before this week's “American
Idol” finale, one thing was clear:

The male-domination had finally ended.
This season is stuffed with talented women.

“I think I realized it in Hollywood
Week,” said Janelle Arthur, who finished fifth. “I knew … the
female talent was through the roof.”

During that early week, she happened to
be in a group with Angie Miller. “After I heard her perform her
original song on the piano, that's when it really hit me,” Arthur
said.

Miller brought extraordinary talent …
but was ousted last week. The Wednesday-Thursday finale has:

– Candice Glover, 23. She's from St.
Helena Island, off the short of South Carolina, which has 8,700
people and a vibrant Gullah culture.

– Kree Harrison, who turns 23 on
Friday, a day after the “Idol” winner is announced. She's from
Woodville, a Texas town of 2,600.

Both have done lots of church singing,
but Glover – who also has a feeling for jazz and more – is the
one with gospel surging through her music. “She has this powerful
voice,” said Miller, who is also a church-singer and finished
third.

In contrast, Harrison leans toward
country music, but shows flashes of rock and blues. Her own life
ripples with personal blues.

For a time, Harrison was a pre-teen
sensation. She opened for Percy Sledge at 8, was on the “Rosie
O'Donnell Show” at 10, then signed a Disney deal. Then came the
detours: She was 12 when her dad died in a plane crash, 19 when her
mom died in a car crash; she was an “Idol” contestant when she
learned that her strongest Nashville link, Mindy McCready, had
apparently killed herself.

That much tragedy could mold a bitter
person. Harrison, however, seems to be the opposite.

“Kree is like a mom,” Miller said.
“She's so nice and never thinks of herself.”

Miller brings the perspective of being
Harrison's roommate during most of the “Idol” run. Then again,
Glover gets similar praise from her “Idol” roommate.

“She was so sweet,” Amber Holcomb,
who finished fourth, said of Glover.. “We used to talk every night
and we'd wake up and talk again in the morning. She's just like an
all-around good person.”

Miller agrees and adds one thing more:
“Candice is the funniest person. I wish everyone could … see how
hysterical she is.”

Now Glover or Harrison will end a
string of five straight male champions. This time, all five men were
ousted from the top 10, leaving “Idol” with a first – an
all-female final five. The competition never really bristled, Arthur
said. “All of us are just really laid back.”

Any intensity is poured into the music.
Glover and Harrison have been big, strong, passionate. On Thursday,
one will be the next “American Idol” winner.

– “American Idol” finale, Fox

– 8-9 p.m. Wednesday: Candice Glover
and Kree Harrison perform; then viewers vote

– 8-10 p.m. Thursday: After much
commotion and many guest stars, a winner is announced.