Jordin Sparks is ready for her starring roles

If it's a "Battlefield" out there, as Jordin Sparks sings, the peppy "American Idol" sixth-season winner -- the last female champ -- has her ammo ready.

Jordin Sparks
Jordin Sparks performs Sept. 12 at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

If it's a "Battlefield" out there, as Jordin Sparks sings, the peppy "American Idol" sixth-season winner -- the last female champ -- has her ammo ready.

Armed with a handful of hit singles from her 2007 post-"Idol" debut and the title track from last year's "Battlefield," the Arizona native with relatives in the Red River Valley has enough material for her first headlining tour.

A month after her tour ends, Sparks, 20, the youngest singer to win "Idol," steps into her first Broadway role, as Stanford dropout Nina Rosario in the Tony-winning musical "In the Heights."

"The cool thing is I saw the play for the first time in February and fell in love with it and met with the writer. I didn't know anything would come of it," Sparks said on the telephone from Cincinnati on one of her few days off.

Q. That's quite a feat, jumping from the tour to a role in a major musical. How will you find rehearsal time?


A. I've been listening to the music nonstop. When I love a song, it's easy for me to get it stuck in my head. I have that part memorized. I have to work on the lines and exits and entrances, and then I have about three weeks to do rehearsals for the opening.

I'm so excited. I love Broadway. My dad played football for the Giants and so we would to go Broadway a lot. I always wanted to do it, I just didn't know when. I think I'm up for the challenge." (Her grandfather, Jim Wiedmann, played football for UND.)

Q. Since you won "American Idol," its format has changed and ratings and quality have declined. How can it be fixed?

A. Instruments are great but "American Idol" started as a singing competition. That was the whole point of the show. That's one thing I'd change. Put the focus back more on the singer. I don't know if they should add another judge -- with three, the vibe was really good. I'm not sure how I feel about the save (rule). I was glad Mike (Lynche) was saved and, at the same time, that defeats the purpose of people voting.

Q. What was the process in making your second album?

A. With "Battlefield," it had been two years since the 'Jordin Sparks' CD, and I had more time to work on it. I'd gone through a little bit, so I grew up and learned about the industry and myself. It was cool to put my thoughts on paper, and it became a song. That's the most amazing thing. You start out with nothing and then have this production and song. I go to a different place when I perform those songs.

Q. You partnered with Allstate on this tour to promote an initiative called "X the TXT." What is that about?

A. Me and mom joined the campaign. It affects kids my age but affects my mom's generation as well. Not everybody texts and drives, but it's becoming more widespread.

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