4/15/2003 News media contact: Tim Tanton · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.
NOTE: Photographs are available with this report.
By Heather Peck Stahl*
Locke (right foreground) is honored during a reception at her church,
Key-Stewart United Methodist Church in Gallatin, Tenn. Locke is one of
seven finalists on American Idol II, a nationally televised vocal
competition on the FOX network. A UMNS photo by Thomas Spann. Photo
number 03-146, Accompanies UMNS #226, 4/15/03
No Long Caption Available for this Story
Locke, 25, sings for the judges during the taping of American Idol II,
a nationally televised vocal competition on the FOX network. Locke, a
member of Key-Stewart United Methodist Church in Gallatin, Tenn., is one
of seven finalists on the show. A UMNS photo FOX Broadcasting. Photo
number 03-145, Accompanies UMNS #226, 4/15/03
No Long Caption Available for this Story
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - When Kimberley Locke was 5
and singing in her church choir, she dreamed of becoming a professional
Today, the member of Key-Stewart United Methodist
Church in Gallatin, Tenn., is one of seven finalists in "American Idol
II," a nationally televised vocal competition on the FOX network. She
will compete again April 15, with the results show following on the next
Described by friends as rooted in her faith, Locke, 25,
spends her free time praying, reading scripture and listening to CD
recordings of the sermons and choir performances she has missed while
participating in the competition in Los Angeles. Polly Persley, Locke's
self-described "second mom," gave her the CDs on a recent visit.
all the things she was given, Kim treasured the CDs the most," says
Persley, who first met Locke at church 11 years ago. "Kim told me
'there's nothing like being in church and singing,' and she couldn't
wait to go back to her room and listen to them. God is her head force."
the competition Locke has "remained grounded by her faith and not
forgotten where she came from," says Nacole Robb, Locke's best friend
since fifth grade. "Kim takes her position on 'American Idol' as a
blessing by God, and by keeping God first in her life, she hasn't
allowed her fame to go to her head." Robb plans to be in the television
audience, holding up signs made by church members and friends in support
of Locke. "Kim gives God the credit for her successes."
30, Locke was among some 5,000 singers ages 16 to 24 who auditioned in
Nashville, one of seven cities where about 50,000 hopefuls from across
the country stood in long lines for a chance to participate in the
After two rounds of auditions in Nashville, Locke
performed in front of singer Paula Abdul, producer Randy Jackson and
record executive Simon Cowell, who remain the primary judges throughout
the competition. Impressed by her voice, the judges chose Locke to be
among the 234 to audition in Los Angeles in the "Going to Hollywood"
After four days of rigorous auditions in Los Angeles in
December, Locke became one of 32 to compete for the title of American
Idol on national television. On Feb. 11, she competed against seven
others on the prime-time show, and was selected by telephone and cell
phone votes from viewers across the country to advance to the top 12. In
the weeks since then, contestants with the fewest votes have exited the
show one by one.
The competition continues every Tuesday and
Wednesday night until May 21, when the winner will be announced and
awarded a contract with the record company BMG.
Locke was born
in Hartsville, Tenn., but spent most of her life in Gallatin, a town of
about 24,000. When she was 8, her parents divorced, and she and her
older brother were raised by their mother, Christine.
years ago, Locke and three of her friends began the "Shadz of U"
quartet, a name that represented the different shades of skin (Locke was
born to a white mother and black father) as well as the different
families and generations of each member. The quartet first performed at a
Key-Stewart Church service and has been performing ever since at
churches, black caucus and community events, and talent shows, as well
as on studio recordings. Chandra Boone, a member of the quartet, says
they won every competition they entered.
"Kim is an American Idol
with or without the title," Boone says. "She wants to encourage others
to be God-fearing, mannerly, respectful and hard-working. God is holding
her tight, and God's grace continues to guide her through this
James Story, Locke's music instructor since high
school, isn't surprised that his student has done well in the
competition. "It doesn't shock me that Kim is a finalist with 17 million
people watching her," he says. "Kim sings with great passion and style
for such a young singer. She can interpret song lyrics with great
emotion and sophistication, which is a rarity."
Story says that
Locke's past training at school and church prepared her for the 12- to
14-hour-day rehearsals required for her "American Idol" performances.
Locke spent three years as a member of the Gallatin High School
Performers, a select group of 16; two years as a member of the
All-Middle State Chorus; and two years as a member of the All-State
No stranger to hard work, Locke was working as an
administrative assistant and studying to be a lawyer before becoming an
"American Idol" contestant. In college, she worked two jobs to fund her
education, and in August 2001, she received a bachelor of business
administration degree in management. In her free time, Locke
participated in her church's choir, Sunday school and Bible study, and
served on the usher board.
"Kimberley is enthusiastic about
learning about the Lord and his ministry," says the Rev. Roland Scruggs
of Key-Stewart Church, who regularly leads his congregation in prayer
for Locke. "She's very vivacious, outgoing, giving and loving. At
Christmas time, she can bring you to tears with her rendition of the
song, 'Mary, Did You Know?'"
"American Idol II" visited Gallatin
Feb. 15-16 to film a brief biography about Locke's family, community and
church. During that time, more than 200 family members and friends
gathered for a reception, and each of those dates was declared
"Kimberley Locke Day."
More information on Locke and the show is
available at www.idolonfox.com. She can be reached at American Idol,
P.O. Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213-0900. # # # *Stahl is a freelance journalist in Nashville, Tenn.