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Singer Kimberley Locke made a hugely successful run on American Idol and ended up placing third (behind runner-up Clay Aiken and winner Ruben Studdard).
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49 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles. Locke calls the release of her debut album one of the defining moments of her life. She said, "For the rest of my life and when I'm 80 years old, if I want to go to Amazon.com or itunes.com and order or download my album I can. It's a moment in the history of my life." In 2007, Locke released her second studio album, Based on a True Story,
and later that year she came out with a holiday album titled Christmas that featured three No. 1 holiday singles.
In addition to singing, Locke has also enjoyed a successful modeling career. In 2005, she signed with Ford Models to model for Lane Bryant, a chain of clothing stores that focuses on fashionable plus-size women's clothing. Locke, a self-proclaimed "foodie" who owns a steakhouse in New York, says that plus-size modeling gave her an opportunity to embrace her voluptuous figure. She said, "God makes no mistakes and he did not make any with me by putting a few extra layers on my tushy and my thighs." Nevertheless, in 2007 Locke competed on VH1's celebrity weight loss reality TV show Celebrity Fit Club. She lost 27 pounds on the show, and landed a sponsorship with dieting company Jenny Craig. Locke also began dating her Celebrity Fit Club trainer, Harvey Walden, although the two have since split ways.
In 2010, Locke became the first artist to sign onto American Idol judge Randy Jackson's new record label, Dream Merchant 21. She released her first single on the new label, "Strobe Light," in April 2010. In addition to her work as a singer and model, Locke has worked actively with many HIV/AIDS-related charities. In November 2007, Locke received the Red Ribbon award in honor of her HIV/AIDS activism, and in March 2010 she was elected to the Board of Directors of One Heartland, a pediatric AIDS foundation.
While Locke intends to continue her music career, she now considers her job on the Board of Directors of One Heartland to be her most important work. Asked about the turning point in her life, Locke points to the first time she visited the youth camp run by One Heartland. "It changed my life, because I realized that whatever I'm going through, it's not bigger than what's going on at Camp Heartland," she said. Locke's new career goal is simply to help one person every day. She says, "I think that if everybody helped one person everyday, this world would be different."
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In the early days of the music industry, only a combination of hard work and luck could get musicians a recording contract—and even then, success was limited by the scope of a radio or record distribution deal. But thanks to the reality TV phenomenon, even an appearance on the American Idol competition can make you an instant superstar. Here are some of the show's most famous competitors and judges.
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