Tony Cummings looks at the career of US pop star JORDIN SPARKS
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Jordin may have been keen to go mainstream but she certainly wasn't prepared to join the Pussycat Dolls and Beyonce bump and grinders. She told the media, "I don't want to sing about sex and 'rubbing all over my body' because I don't know about any of that stuff yet. I've never been one to be very raunchy or wear skimpy clothes." She told curious journalists that she was saving herself from marriage. The singer explained how she's worn her "purity ring" with the inscription "True Love Waits" since she was 13.
Jordin signed with Clive Davis' Zomba record label and her self-titled album was released in the US in November 2007. It produced a small hit, the ricocheting mid-tempo "Tattoo", one biggish hit, the hooky "One Step At A Time" and one huge smash, the sinuous duet with Chris Brown "No Air". But for many Christian listeners it was the 12th song from 'Jordin Sparks', "God Loves Ugly", which gave Jordin's debut one of its most memorable tracks ("But God loves ugly/He doesn't see the way I see/Oh God takes ugly/And turns it into something that is beautiful/Apparently I'm beautiful/'Cause you love me"). Hits and accolades followed the 'Jordin Sparks' release. She became the second American Idol winner to have two or more Grammy nominations after the release of one album (the first being Kelly Clarkson).
While at the same Awards, Sparks caused controversy by responding to a joke made by host Russell Brand during his opening routine, when he held up a silver ring, claiming to have relieved one of the Jonas Brothers of his virginity, saying he would "take them more seriously if they wore it (the ring) around their genitals." Sparks took umbrage at the potty-mouthed attack on the Christian Jonas Brothers, responding at the start of her introduction of rapper TI: "I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It's not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody - guy or girl - wants to be a slut."
Now that Jordin has won the biggest music competition in America her church is unswerving in their support of their pop star member. Her Calvary pastor Brad Eberly told the Arizona Republic, "Our church's concerted prayer effort for Jordin is that she's not swallowed up by the industry, that she stays centred, that she can continue to have clarity as to who she is and where she comes from. And that her self-approval and her value go way beyond her ability to sing."
Sparks was the opening act for Alicia Keys on the US leg of her As I Am tour. Before going on tour, she was to appear on the GMA Dove Awards as part of a tribute to Michael W Smith as well as, it was announced, teaming up with cosmetics company Avon to become a spokesperson for the teen-focused line Mark. Before the tour even started, a potentially career-threatening throat injury forced Sparks to cancel a few weeks of shows. Officials said that she was suffering an acute vocal cord haemorrhage and was ordered to strict vocal rest until the condition improved. If it had not improved, it may have required laser microsurgery. Her first concert originally was scheduled as an opener for Alicia Keys on 19th April 2008. She was on the road with Keys by 30th April and remained on the tour until the last show on 18th June. Now, thankfully fully recovered, Jordin is currently working hard on her second album.
One track which will definitely make the cut is "Battlefield". The mid-tempo R&B track was written by Grammy nominated producer, songwriter and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, who has already penned big hits for Ashanti, Jennifer Hudson and Rihanna and who is, of course, a committed Christian. Jordin said her new album will be more R&B and dance influenced and will sound more Beyonce meets Rihanna. In an update on her MySpace Sparks stated she was "in the studio and writing amazing songs!" She stated she wanted to record about 25 songs to choose from for the album, to have 14 tracks on the final CD and has been working with some of the same writers as the last album as well as new writers such as Claude Kelly (Kelly Clarkson - "My Life Would Suck Without You"), Lucas Secon (Pussycat Dolls - "I Hate This Part") and Toby Gad, best known for writing Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy" and Fergie's number one single "Big Girls Don't Cry". It has also been confirmed that the "Bleeding Love" writer Jesse McCartney will also be working with Sparks. The album will now probably be released in September.
CCM star Michael W Smith, on whose early 'Worship' project Jordin once sang, added that the 17 year old singer "is grounded in faith and family" and said he believes she can be a role model for young people all over the world: "What a tremendous responsibility, especially at her young age. But I think she's ready."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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