If Gold Derby’s predictions for “American Idol” Season 19 come true, Willie Spence is about to make history as the first Black male winner since Ruben Studdard. The “velvet teddy bear” won Season 2 of the reality TV singing sensation in 2003 over Clay Aiken and is still considered one of the best champions even two decades later. However, a Black man has never made it to the finale ever since, either as the winner or the runner-up. Can Willie break that curse?
1. Willie Spence — 11/1
2. Grace Kinstler — 13/1
3. Casey Bishop — 14/1
4. Chayce Beckham — 18/1
5. Comeback Contestant — 66/1
6. Alyssa Wray — 68/1
7. Hunter Metts — 97/1
8-10. Cassandra Coleman, Caleb Kennedy, Deshawn Goncalves — 100/1
SEE ‘American Idol’ comeback contestants: Which 10 artists from Season 18 are crashing Season 19?
Willie rose to fame years before “Idol” when he went viral with his impromptu cover of Rihanna‘s “Diamonds.” He smartly chose to perform that song for his “Idol” audition and all three judges — Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan — were stopped in their tracks. “I just want my voice to reach the world and just share my gift,” declared the 21-year-old caretaker from Douglas, GA at his original audition.
In later rounds Willie took on “I Was Here” for his showstopper, “Wind Beneath My Wings” as his Top 24 solo, “The Prayer” with Katharine McPhee as his Top 24 duet, “Set Fire to the Rain” in the Top 16, “Diamonds” (again) after making it into the Top 12 and “Stand Up” from “Harriet” during Oscar week.
As for Grace, she’s been flying high as a fan-fave ever since her original audition of “Natural Woman” earned millions of YouTube views. This 20-year-old college student from Lakewood, IL later performed “Father” as her showstopper, “Queen” as her Top 24 solo, “Midnight Train to Georgia” with Joss Stone as her Top 24 duet, “Elastic Heart” in the Top 16, “Dangerous Woman” after making it into the Top 12 and “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” during Oscar week.
Ruben still keeps in touch with all things “Idol,” even reportedly calling up Deshawn to give him advice two weeks ago. While Ruben is the only Black male winner in the show’s long history, there have been four such females to prevail: Fantasia Barrino (Season 3), Jordin Sparks (Season 6), Candice Glover (Season 12) and Just Sam (Season 18).
SEE exclusive predictions: Who will win ‘American Idol’?
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