Every season, American Idol has one or two contestants with undeniable powerhouse voices who seem certain to catapult straight from the auditions to the finals. In the sixth season of the show, Lakisha Jones was one of those contestants. Ever since Jones -- who was born in Fort Meade, MD, but grew up in Flint, MI, where she wound up working as a bank teller as she raised her daughter, Brionne -- first appeared in the New York audition singing Aretha Franklin's "Think," it seemed inevitable for her to make it into the Top 24. It seemed like a talent as obvious as hers would have been a shoo-in to be discovered, meaning that she was just the kind of singer that American Idol was designed to find.
Jones had been singing since she was a child -- on her Idol Q&A she claimed she started singing at the age of five -- and received some formal vocal training. Prior to auditioning for Idol, she placed as the runner-up on the Houston radio show program Gimme the Mike in 2005, and then two years later, at the age of 27, she began her American Idol journey. After that impressive first audition, she sailed through to Hollywood, and then won a position as one of the final 12 female contestants. She came storming out of the gates in the first week of real competition with a searing version of the Dreamgirls standard "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." It was the showstopper of the week -- so good that Simon Cowell declared that he's "very tempted to tell the other 23 contestants to pack their bags and buy their tickets home" -- and then in her second week she delivered a warm, soulful version of "Midnight Train to Georgia." In May of 2009, Jones released her debut solo album, So Glad I'm Me.