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Melinda Marie Doolittle (born October 6, 1977) is an American singer who finished as the third place finalist on the sixth season of American Idol. Prior to her appearance on American Idol, Doolittle worked as a professional back-up singer for, among others, Michael McDonald, Kirk Franklin, Aaron Neville, BeBe and CeCe Winans, Alabama, Jonny Lang, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and Anointed.
Doolittle was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Steve and Marguerite Duke Doolittle, she considers Brentwood, Tennessee to be home; her Homecoming was held there after she made the Top 3 on American Idol Season 6. She graduated from Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1995. Although she has been singing since the seventh grade, her professional career did not begin until 1999. She was a music major at Belmont University. Since college, her vocal instruction has been provided by Janet Kenyon.
Doolittle first auditioned for American Idol in Memphis, Tennessee. She went down to Memphis with some friends who were auditioning and decided to audition for fun. She sang the song "For Once in My Life", which was popularized by one of her favorite artists, Stevie Wonder. Her audition received positive feedback from all three judges, although they expressed concern about the nerves she had exhibited and told her to believe in herself.
Doolittle managed to secure herself a spot in the Top 24, who all performed on national television. During her first broadcast performance, Doolittle was highly praised for her rendition of "Sweet Sweet Baby (Since Youâ€™ve Been Gone)", by Aretha Franklin. The following week, Doolittle pulled off another winning performance with the song "My Funny Valentine". According to the judges, it was "without question the best vocal of the night.", and it ranked #3 in AOL Top 20 Idol Performances. Simon called the performance "incredible" and Paula called it "just astounding...You phrased that song so beautifully, so differently...I applaud you." For her last semifinal performance, Doolittle attempted the song "I'm a Woman", causing Simon Cowell to call her "a little tiger," continuing: "I thought we had a pussycat." On March 8, 2007, Doolittle made it into the show's Top 12.