McCreery Returning to Perform on “American Idol”

Scotty McCreery is returning to the American Idol stage…

The 22-year-old part-Puerto Rican singer and former AI champion will return to Fox’s reality singing competition to perform with one of this season’s contestants.

Scotty McCreery

On this Wednesday’s show (Feb. 10) MacKenzie Bourg, Emily Brooke, Gianna Isabella, James VIII, Jeneve Rose Mitchell, Stephany Negrete, Jenna Renae, La’Porsha Renae, Jordan Sasser, Thomas Stringfellow, Sonika Vaid and Avalon Young will each get a chance to perform solo.

The next night (Feb. 11), the semi-finalists will have the opportunity to duet with McCreery, Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard, Caleb Johnson, Lauren Alaina, and Nick Fradiani . Each Idol will duet with 12 semi-finalists, seven of which will move forward to the next round, according to a Fox release.

The Feb. 17 show will feature Jenn Blosil, Amelia Eisenhauer, Trent Harmon, Lee Jean, CJ Johnson, Adam Lasher, Tristan McIntosh, Dalton Rapattoni, Olivia Rox, Manny Torres, Kory Wheeler and Shelbie Z.

The next night they will get their chance to duet with alums Constantine Maroulis, Haley Reinhart, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Jordin Sparks and David Cook. The judges will then announce which contestants are moving forward and who is going home.

The following week (Feb. 24), the judges will reveal which eight singers are definitely moving forward to the top 10, leaving six remaining vocalists to compete for America’s vote.  The show will go live the next night (Feb. 25), when host Ryan Seacrest announces the results and which two singers will complete the top 10. As a bonus that evening, Kelly Clarkson will return to the show to perform and serve as a guest judge.

Beginning Feb. 24, public voting will be live at AmericanIdol.com, on the FOX NOW app, via Google Search, via text messaging and by toll-free calling when the Idol vote window opens.

Sanchez Releases New Yuletide EP, “Christmas with Jessica”

Jessica Sanchez is getting into the holiday spirit…

The 20-year-old half-Mexican American singer and former American Idol finalist has released a new yuletide EP, Christmas with Jessica.

Jessica Sanchez

“I have always wanted to do a Christmas album and covers,” Sanchez tells Billboard. “It’s just a gift for my fans because I love them.”

Recorded in just two days, the independently-released six song EP includes Sanchez performing a soulful rendition of Eartha Kitt’s classic, “Santa Baby,” a jubilant “Joy to the World” and a soaring version of “Ave Maria.”

The record, produced by James Daniels and executive produced by LA Mic Studios and Wise Owl Media Group, celebrates Sanchez’s love of the holiday season.

Adding to the holiday merriment is the announcement that the Season 11 runner-up will join other Idols Kris Allen, Pia Toscano, Ruben Studdard, Tamyra Gray, Elliott Yamin, Ayla Brown and Paris Bennett for the Orange County Christmas Extravaganza on December 23.

Former judge Randy Jackson is also scheduled to appear at the show — a benefit for the Jessie Reese Foundation — which supports children fighting cancer.

The show will be broadcast live from the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on KDOC TV and other markets from 8 to 10 p.m.

“Christmas is my favorite holiday because you spend time with family,” she said. “I love the decorations, the music, and buying gifts for people. Everything about Christmas is the best.”

“Santa Baby” was the California native’s personal pick, and she chose to throw back to Kitt’s version when she went into the studio.

“I went with the earlier version, the classic, which is very soft spoken but sexy at the same time,” she said. “It was the most fun to record. There is so much room to mess around with the song, but I tried to keep it as classic as possible.”

Recording the EP had its challenges, Sanchez said.

“I was actually really sick during that time and I was worried how my voice would sound. I was afraid to put this EP out because my voice was not fully there and I’m such a perfectionist I don’t like putting anything out that is not my best,” she said. “But I had to put that aside and remember that this is for my fans and my supporters and it’s a little EP for them. I hope that it was good enough.”

In addition to the record, the singer has also launched her first merchandise store on her Website, Jessicasanchez.bigcartel.com. Sanchez oversaw the selection of T-shirts, crop tops, hoodies, and a signature “snapback hat” is on sale on the Website until Jan. 2.

“We looked through a couple of things and I personally handpicked what I wanted. I have always wanted to do clothing because I’m a typical girl and I love clothes and shoes,” she said. “That was a lot of fun and I’m really happy with the way that it came out for my first  pieces of merch. The quality is nice, too.”

When the holiday season is over, Sanchez is launching straight into 2016 with plans for the follow-up to her debut album, Me, You and the Music.  The record, she said, will be more R&B “rhythmic pop” or “more soulful Tinashe.”

“I’m very excited to be working on the music that I really love,” she said.

The entertainer — who has signed on with new manager Mark Lamica — has more plans for 2016, including exploring acting roles, endorsements, and a possible return to Idol.  Sanchez said she is “sad” to see the Fox show ending, but hinted she “might make an appearance” before the final curtain.

“It was a big part of my life. It felt like I was on that show for years, and being in that Idol bubble it felt like a family with the staff and the judges and the contestants, so it’s sad seeing it end,” she said. “But I know they will be going out with a bang. This is their final season and they are going to kill it. I’m excited for that.”

With all that ahead of her, Sanchez has one New Years Resolution she has yet to conquer.

“Every single year I tell myself I am going to drive. It never happens,” she said. “I don’t know how to drive. I am already 20. This needs to happen.”

Christmas with Jessica is available on CDBaby, iTunes Amazon.com and Google.

McCreery: A “Clear as Day” Number 1…

Scotty McCreery has more to celebrate than turning 18 this past weekend… The “American Idol” winner’s first studio album debuts at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

The part-Puerto Rican country crooner’s debut album, “Clear as Day” sold 197,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

“My head is just spinning,” says the North Carolina native. “It started out kind of low: They said 100,000 maybe. Then every day I saw the numbers climbing. It’s wild: It wasn’t a year ago that I was a normal cat, and now I’m number one on Billboard. It’s insane, it really is.”

McCreery’s first week sales of  the most for an American Idol winner since David Cook’s debut album sold 280,000 in its initial week back in November 2008.

He’s also the first champion to enter the charts at Number 1 with his debut album since second season champ Ruben Studdard’s “Soulfultopped the chart in 2003.

“McCreery is the first country act to debut at No. 1 with their first studio album, and at 18 years old, the youngest man to open at the top of the chart with his debut release.” Says Billboard’s Keith Claufield.

But that’s not all… He’s the first country act to debut at thetop of U.S. album chart with his first studio album and he’s the youngest male artist to go straight to Number 1 on his  first try. Prior to McCreery, then-20-year-old Omarion was the youngest male artist to score a Number debut album back in 2005 with “O.”