Jason Castro Signs Major-Label Record Deal

Debut to feature collaboration with 'American Idol' judge Kara DioGuardi.

Almost a year after he flubbed his way out of the top four on "American Idol," dreadlocked singer Jason Castro has redeemed himself by landing a major-label recording contract. Atlantic Records announced on Monday that it had signed the Rockwall, Texas-bred Castro to a deal that will have him releasing his debut album later this year.

Castro, 22, who won over the judges and fans with his sensitive persona, doe-eyed good looks and soaring cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and was the first contestant to ever play an instrument on the "Idol" stage, is currently working on the album. According to his label, among his songwriting collaborators on the yet-untitled effort are current "Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi (Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood), Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, KT Tunstall), Sacha Skarbek (Adele, James Blunt), Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams) and Jason Reeves (Colbie Caillat). Grammy-winning producer John Fields (Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers) is among the producers working on the album.

Castro proved his commercial potential on the show when his cover of "Hallelujah" helped push late singer Jeff Buckley's iconic version of the song to #1 on iTunes and sales of 178,000 digital singles the week after Castro's performance. His cover of "Over the Rainbow" also hit #1 on iTunes a few weeks later.

Since coming off the road with the rest of the show's crew following last summer's "Idol" tour, Castro has been working on new songs that will appear on the album, according to a press release announcing the signing. A newly recorded version of "Hallelujah" will be featured on the soundtrack to the Mexican doomed-love story "Amar a Morir," slated for release this summer.

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