The child of NFL player Phillippi Sparks (formerly of the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys), the baby-faced belter grew up singing and doing children's theater. She got a string of gigs singing the national anthem at professional sporting events in her home state of Arizona, toured with CCM star Michael W. Smith and recorded an EP (2003's For Now) at age 13. Despite all her experience, Sparks did not initially make the cut when she auditioned for Idol in Los Angeles. She did, however, win the local Arizona Idol contest, which earned her the right to audition again in Seattle and, eventually, to become the youngest ever American Idol. Following her win, she toured with the other Idols and began work on her debut album.