Ousted 'American Idol' Tamyra Gray Gets Another Shot

Fan favorite singer signed to management contract.

Just a week after her shocking exit from "American Idol," 23-year-old Tamyra

Gray has signed a management deal with one of the show's producers, her

first step on the path to a music career.

19 Entertainment has picked up an option to manage the Atlanta singer, who

was considered by fans and the judges to be a shoo-in for one of the final slots, if

not the potential winner.

Finalists on the show are barred from releasing any music until three months

after the winner has put out his/her CD. With an expected September release

for the single from the "Idol" champion, Gray said her debut won't likely hit

shelves until next year. She has not yet started recording an album, she said.

19 was founded by "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller, the British talent manager who formed and managed the Spice Girls and S Club 7 and helped steer former Eurythmics

singer Annie Lennox's solo career.

The ouster of Gray last Wednesday seemed to catch everyone by surprise, with

judge Paula Abdul on the verge of tears at the announcement. Judge Randy

Jackson vowed to do anything he possibly could to help Gray's career, as did

resident British meanie, Simon Cowell, vowing that America has not seen the

last of the singer. "Watch this space," he said mysteriously.

Gray, however, said she wasn't surprised. "I was prepared for it," the

perpetually chipper singer said. "I knew my performance on Tuesday night was

not as strong as it could have been. Out of all three, I was the weakest."

During the commercial break before Wednesday's cut was announced, Gray said

she told fellow low-vote getter Nikki McKibbin that "she had nothing to

worry about and that I would be the one to go."

The show's producers have three months after the September 4 finale to pick

up options on the contracts on any of the 10 finalists, who will all appear

on the show's finale. The top 10 will also mount a U.S. tour in October and

sing tunes from the show on a compilation album due later this year, Gray

said (see " 'American Idol' Finalists Could Become Movie Stars").

In the meantime, the final three — perpetual bottom runger Nikki McKibbin,

Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini — were back in their hometowns over the

weekend making appearances as they await this week's date with elimination.

Fans of elegant singer Gray had been weighing in with thousands of votes of

confidence on her "Idols" bulletin board all week. "Tamyra please don't give

up," wrote "Mystery Girl." "You deserved more than this competition. You were

truly the best in the whole thing. I wish you all the best and that you

become the world's next best-selling singer. I bet in a couple of months you

can get a record contract and become like Ashanti or Brandy, except way


Although, as Cowell said, her career is just beginning, Gray said leaving

"Idol" was almost as wild as being on the show. "It's like walking in a new

direction," she said. "All I've known the past couple of months is 'American

Idol' and this is like stepping out of a bubble and not knowing what to do

with yourself."

If the British progenitor of "American Idol," called "Pop Idol," is any

indication, we'll definitely be hearing from Gray and her fellow quarter


"Pop Idol" has already spawned two huge stars in its finalists. The show's runner-up, Gareth Gates, recorded a version of "Unchained Melody" which shot straight to #1 on the U.K. singles chart, unseating his rival, "Pop Idol" winner Will Young.