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New Balance 620 Women's Grey

´╗┐Jordin Sparks happy to play gigs big or small

Jordin Sparks never expected to be handed a golden ticket to the music industry. She was the winner in 2007 of "American Idol," and went on to tour with Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, the Jonas Brothers and Jesse McCartney, but now as she hits the road for her first headlining tour, she wears no rose colored glasses. She's playing smaller venues on her own tour, including Reno's 1,200 capacity Knitting Factory on July 3.

"I'm not required to do anything with 'American Idol' if I don't want to, but who wouldn't want to?" Sparks said. "There's like 30 million people watching every week."

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

Her second album, "Battlefield," was released last July, and features the pop and R style that Sparks developed after her "Idol" win. The tracks evoke the Top 40 power reminiscent of Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson. Sparks said she was a bit more relaxed on "Battlefield" than on the rushed effort of her debut album.

Sparks took her career in her own direction after "Idol." Winning the show got her the "American Idols" live tour in 2007, along with a management and recording contract with 19 Management, but she left to pursue other directions.

tier (in an arena), and I can't make eye contact with them. Being in smaller (places), I can look each person in the eye and hopefully touch them and be able to show what I'm trying to say. I know that if I wanted to do an arena tour for my first headlining tour, it probably wouldn't sell out. The music industry is changing. People are saving up their money for things that are more important."

"People change and things go different directions, so it was an amicable split with them," Sparks said.

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

"I love 'American Idol' and I'm going to continue to watch it. I was a fan before I was on the show, and I'm a fan now. But you can't replace Simon, just like you can't replace Paula (Abdul). Paula, Randy, Simon and Ryan are the originals. They've made the show what it is, but they're household names. It's going to be very different there without Simon and Paula. I don't want to see the ratings slip. You never know what's going to happen."

Still, she understands the power of "Idol" and what it's done for her.

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

"Having put the (first) album together in such a short amount of time, we didn't get to write very much," Sparks said. "So when we got to work on 'Battlefield,' I had almost six or seven months to work on it. It was amazing just to sit down and it had been two years since the first record. I had gone through some things, I had grown up a little bit, and it was fun to be able to put those thoughts and the things I had experienced and put them down on paper."

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

So she appeared on the finale of "Idol" this year, in a going away party for judge Simon Cowell, who ended his run on the show this year. Sparks admits she's concerned for the show's future.

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

But Sparks has her own musical career to nurture, and she holds the distinction of being the youngest "Idol" winner, as well as the last female winner. She gives pause to the notion that "Idol" winners are increasingly crowned by teen girls madly texting votes for the show's prettiest contestants.

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

"That kind of makes sense," Sparks said. "I don't New Balance 373 Blue Orange

want to put down who won. The person who gets the most votes wins, and they deserve it. At the same time, I could see how they could get a few more votes (from girls). But I'm proud of both (winner) Lee (Dewyze) and Crystal (Bowersox). It was awesome to see Crystal in the finale. I think she's going to be just fine."

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

"I love performing in general," Sparks said in a recent interview during a week when she had 30 others to do. "There's no feeling like coming out on stage in an arena, because the sound and the adrenaline rush is so amazing. But I love playing smaller New Balance 620 Women's Grey venues, too. I can't see the people sitting up on the third New Balance 420 Womens Blue

her songs including her first hit, 2007's "No Air" and ringtones to a combined 9 million downloads. She steers clear of negative publicity, appeared on a recent episode of Nickelodeon's "Big Time Rush," and provides charitable support to a campaign raising awareness of the dangers of texting and driving, "X the TXT."

New Balance 620 Women's Grey

This comes after her "Idol" win, her platinum selling debut pop R album and the release last year of her second album, "Battlefield."

Sparks' modesty suits her well. She expresses a lot of gratitude for being able to sing for a living and for the springboard that "Idol" provided her. The 20 year old serves as a role model for her core audience of teens and 20 somethings, who have propelled New Balance 996 Blue Gold

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