'Idol' lessons serve songstress well

Winning a music pageant may be a great way to launch your singing career, but as Jordin Sparks understands, the hard part begins once you leave the “American Idol” set.

“On ‘Idol’ you have to be prepared every week and understand that people are watching and judging you,” Sparks says. “I carry those lessons (with me) every day.”

She hustled out a self-titled first album just four weeks after becoming the youngest “Idol” winner (she was 17 at the time), selling 1.6 million copies worldwide and snagging both a Grammy nod and an American Music Award in the adult contempo category.

Then she identified top producers she wanted to work with and spent four months preparing her soph album. “Battlefield” debuted in July, earning praise for tracks showcasing the dramatic R&B-pop range that made Sparks a fave on “Idol.” Two of the singles — the title track and Sparks’ Shannon cover “S.O.S. (Let the Music Play)” — made the Billboard top 10.

She allied herself with other hot acts on stage, opening for the Jonas Brothers in May and Britney Spears in August — a smart way to reach her tween-plus demo head-on (though having Kevin Jonas, as her handler can’t hurt).

Impact: “American Idol’s” youngest winner–and busy concert giver–had a second hit album this summer.

Next: Performing on the Jingle Ball Tour this month.

Causes: Member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. Her upcoming third annual Super Bowl charity concert benefits M.A.D. (Making a Difference)

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