Sparks inks a recording deal with Jive Records, which is home to such artists as Justin Timberlake, Usher and Britney Spears. This is the first time an American Idol winner isn't signing with music mogul Clive Davis, who shepherded the careers of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. But the bubbly 17-year-old doesn't seem phased. "I can't wait to share this next chapter of my story with all the fans that have supported me so far," Sparks says in a statement.
Sparks releases her single, "Tattoo." The track, which describes the scar left when a relationship ends, kicks off her self-titled debut album – which cracks the top ten in its first week. Her follow-up single, the Chris Brown duet, "No Air," peaks at No. 3 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, and Sparks is tapped to open for Alicia Keys' "As I Am" tour.
With "No Air" resting comfortably in the Top 10 for months, Sparks returns to Idol to perform her latest single, "One Step at a Time." As her album passes the gold mark, she passes the Idol crown to David Cook. "I'm proud of the numbers that I've sold," she tells Newsday. "From [when Kelly Clarkson won in 2002] to now, everything has changed so much, and it's all about downloading and iTunes and singles...I'm really glad that my singles are doing well."
At the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, Sparks speaks out against host Russell Brand's jokes about the Jonas Brothers and their purity rings. "I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It's not bad to wear a promise ring," Sparks, 18, tells the crowd, "because not everybody – guy or girl – wants to be a slut."
Sparks is photographed at an L.A. Lakers game with model/singer Steph Jones. Though neither confirm a relationship, Jones is snapped kissing Sparks on the cheek during the basketball game.
After the success of her platinum-selling debut, Sparks releases her sophomore disc, Battlefield. "There's a lot more growth so my voice sounds a little bit more mature," she says of the album – for which she wrote four songs, including "Faith," which is "really, really important" to the former Idol.
Playing college student Nina Rosario, Sparks makes her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights. "It's always been one of my dreams to perform on Broadway," she says in a statement. "This is a brand new experience for me."
After debuting a slimmer shape, Sparks, 21, steps out with singer Jason Derulo at his 22nd birthday party in Hollywood. "Jordin would sing to him occasionally through the night in his ear," an eyewitness at the party tells PEOPLE of Sparks and Derulo, whose rep confirms they're dating.
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