A talented performer doesn't have to win the top spot on "American Idol' to launch a successful career. Contestants who competed on the show but didn't win include singer-actors Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert.
Jurnee Siani, 19, of Littleton, Colorado, hopes to join that list. With a half-dozen other finalists from "American Idol" season 16 earlier this year, she's launching a live concert tour of more than 40 American cities, including a show July 13 at the Uptown Theatre in Napa. The season 16 winner, Madeline Poppe, is part of the show and so is another special guest, season 8 winner Kris Allen, but for Jurnee -- she goes by just the one name onstage -- a shot at a national tour is triumph enough.
"I am really excited to get to go everywhere," Jurnee said by phone from a pretour rehearsal in Los Angeles. "It's insane that I'm even talking about going to that many places in three months."
Not only does the tour offer the singer national exposure, but it'll also keep her busy now that her wife, Ashley, an Army communications specialist, has been deployed overseas.
Open about her sexual orientation both on and off the TV series, Jurnee said she made a conscious decision not to hold back.
"Growing up, I looked for people in the LGBTQ community within the music industry, and when I did find them, it was all very hush-hush," she said. "I don't want that. I want to be an open book. Of course, some things are private, but I don't think I can be an LGBTQ community member and not talk about it. That's another form of hiding it, and being part of the problem."
Jurnee won over "Idol" audiences with her powerful performances of "Bang Bang" and Prince's "Kiss," as well as "How Far I'll Go" from the animated film "Moana," and her personal favorite, "Never Enough."
"For my on-tour set, it's going to be a lot of the favorites from 'Idol,' but new renditions of them, just because my style changes every day," she said. "Hopefully, by the last couple of tour dates, I'll have some music to premiere to the crowd that I'm working on for my first album. And by the end of the tour, I should hope we'll have some release dates."
Other "American Idol' season 16 finalists on the tour include Cade Foehner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Catie Turner, Gabby Barrett and Michael J. Woodward.
Even though the singers on the show were competing against each other, they also became friends, Jurnee said.
"It's hard, because the whole run of the show, we were becoming really close, like family. It was always weird, because someone you consider like your best friend performs and you think 'Oh my God, they just did amazing!' And you're like, 'Oh crap, that is not good for me,'" she explained with a laugh.
"That's why I'm so glad that we do get to have a tour, because we get time to support each other as artists, and not have us want to kill each other. "
Jurnee recognizes that while "American Idol" is a powerful starting point for a professional music career, there are no guarantees, and the winners are not necessarily the same ones who become successful later in life. ___
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