*She didn’t get America’s vote, but Universal Music Group has given “American Idol” Season 15 runner up La’Porsha Renae a record deal, along with the winner, Trent Harmon.
Unlike recent seasons where only the winner received a contract, deals were awarded to the top two this year from UMG’s 19/Big Machine. La’Porsha has signed with the label’s imprint, Motown Records.
“Because of the overwhelming fan demand and success of the farewell season of ‘American Idol,’ we have made the decision to sign both the winner, Trent Harmon, and runner-up, La’Porsha Renae, to exclusive recording agreements,” Big Machine Label Group founder and CEO Scott Borchetta tells Billboard. “I can’t think of a better way to bring this American institution to a close. Everyone at the Big Machine Label Group, the Universal Music Group and Motown Records are so thrilled with the outcome and can’t wait to get to work.”
Harmon, a 25-year-old Mississippi native, will attempt a career in country music. He’ll travel to Nashville as soon as his “Idol” appearance obligations are done.
Renae’s album will be overseen by Ethiopia Habtemariam, president of Motown and president of urban music/co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group, who tells Billboard, “We are extremely excited to partner with Big Machine and 19 Entertainment on such an incredible talent as La’Porsha.”
Both deals were put together by 19 Entertainment executive vp/worldwide head of music Jason Morey, who adds, “American Idol has always been about the search for a superstar. This season, America helped us find two. We’re ecstatic to welcome these world-class artists to the 19 Entertainment family.”
Below, “American Idol” judge Keith Urban weighs in on Trent’s win over La’Porsha:
“Idol” Producers went all out for the series finale, securing an intro from President Obama, performances from judges (including Jennifer Lopez slinging her new single “Ain’t Your Mama”), a surprise appearance from Simon Cowell (who joined fellow original judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul on stage) and many of the show’s former contestants performing in genre segments, including an “Acoustic” portion featuring Season 2’s Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken; and a “Divas” moment featuring Fantasia Barrino, Jennifer Hudson and Latoya London from Season 3.
Watch highlights below:
Simon Cowell makes surprise appearance:
ABOVE: The man grooving with the white wig at the :31 sec mark is Sanjaya from Season 6.
IDOL’S FIRST WINNER
Kelly Clarkson wasn’t able to attend the finale in person because she’s expecting baby number two any minute, but she pre-taped a medley of her greatest hits that ran during the show, and posted a farewell message from her daughter River Rose:
— Kelly Clarkson (@kelly_clarkson) April 8, 2016
According to preliminary Nielsen numbers, the finale averaged 12.9 million total viewers over its two hour broadcast, sending the series out on a high note. By comparison, the “American Idol” Season 14 finale marked a record low for the franchise, drawing only 8 million viewers.
In the 8-9 p.m. period, Thursday’s swan song averaged 11.7 million viewers, but rose to 14.1 million viewers from 9-10 when the final winner was crowned. The show also rose in both measures during every half hour, peaking at 14.5 million viewers at 9:30.
Thursday night was also “Idol’s” biggest finale audience in three years.