Ahead of "American Idol"'s two-part season 12 finale on May 15–16, Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson and Keith Urban recently sat down for an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com. Along with guest mentor Harry Connick Jr., the "American Idol" judges discussed the show's impact on the music industry and their connections to Music's Biggest Night, including their respective first GRAMMY wins, among other topics.
"If you just think of the odds of anybody making it in the music business, it's extraordinary odds," said Urban.
"['American Idol'] is the beginning of … a major, major, major career," said Carey. "This show has done so much for so many people's careers."
"We go and find somebody that has never really done this," added Jackson. "I want to find the [person] washing dishes that really wants to be a singer and has a dream."
Since its premiere in 2002, "American Idol" has become one of the highest-rated music television shows ever, grooming a multitude of artists such as Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert, Scotty McCreery, and Jordin Sparks, among others, who have landed more than 300 songs on the top of the Billboard charts. To date, four of the show's finalists — Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, and Carrie Underwood — have won a total of 11 GRAMMYs, including Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Album, and Best New Artist, respectively. Hosted by GRAMMY Foundation Honorary Chair Ryan Seacrest, the season 12 judges are Carey, Jackson, GRAMMY-nominated rap artist Nicki Minaj, and Urban.
Considered the best-selling female artist to emerge in the '90s, five-time GRAMMY winner Carey released her self-titled debut album in 1990, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spawned four No. 1 singles and earned her two GRAMMY Awards for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for "Vision Of Love." Carey's 13th studio album is due this summer and will feature "#Beautiful," a duet with GRAMMY winner Miguel.
Prior to his 12-year stint as a judge on "American Idol," Jackson worked as a bassist, producer and record label executive. He has collaborated with artists such as GRAMMY winners Michael Bolton, Carey, Carlos Santana, and Madonna. Jackson co-produced Gladys Knight's At Last, which earned a GRAMMY for Best Traditional R&B Vocal Album in 2001.
Four-time GRAMMY winner Urban released his self-titled debut album in 1999. Keith Urban was an instant country smash with multiple hit songs and kicked off a string of multi-platinum albums for Urban, including Golden Road (2002) and Be Here (2004). In 2009 Urban released Defying Gravity, which became his first album to top the Billboard 200 and featured the GRAMMY-winning hit "'Til Summer Comes Around." Earlier this month, Urban released a new single, "Little Bit Of Everything."
A three-time GRAMMY winner, Connick scored his mainstream breakthrough with his smooth interpretations of traditional pop standards featured on the soundtrack to the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally. The soundtrack netted Connick his first career GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male. His new studio album, Every Man Should Know, is due June 11.
Finalists Candice Glover and Kree Harrison are set to compete on the season 12 finale of "American Idol" on May 15. The winner will be announced May 16 and will receive a major label recording contract.
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