A household name to fans of the reality series American Idol, Katharine McPhee participated as a contestant in that program's 2006 season, drawing recognition and widespread praise for the range and mellifluousness of her classically trained voice within the context of traditional pop. Though the young diva officially lost the competition to vocalist Taylor Hicks, the accolades she garnered from hypercritical judge Simon Cowell (in particular) served as a testament to her ability and made viewers sit up and take notice, while the extent of her popularity on Idol promised a long and viable career as an entertainer. A native of Sherman Oaks, CA, McPhee was born in 1984 and received extensive formal training as a vocalist under the aegis of her mother, established singer Peisha McPhee. Musical performance and drama characterized Katharine's childhood and adolescent years, but she first began to take serious career interest in the arts while enrolled as a musical theater major at the esteemed Boston Conservatory. Within a few semesters, however, the blossoming performer grew restless and dropped out of school, taking off for the film studios and theaters of Los Angeles. She landed a role in the 2006 musical biopic Crazy, participated in an MTV series that failed to make it to the air, and essayed roles in productions of Annie Get Your Gun and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Idol, of course, represented McPhee's breakthrough, and shortly thereafter (fall 2006) the young diva began recording her eponymous debut album, which hit shelves in early 2007. Meanwhile, roles in such features as The House Bunny, Shark Night 3D, and Bruce Beresford's Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding found the emerging songstress branching out into acting, and in 2012 she seemed to find a happy middle ground with her role on the musical television series Smash, which followed a group of ambitious Broadway performers as they prepared to stage a musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi