This good news about Melinda Doolittle served to remind me of another breathtaking talent that fell short of winning the whole shebang. She is today’s item of fixation:
17. Latoya London
Latoya London, known to her fans simply as ‘London’, came in fourth in a year populated with mostly mediocre contestants but three extremely talented young black females. It was Jennifer Hudson (who came in a shocking fifth that year but still managed to get an Oscar nod for “Dreamgirls”), Fantasia Barrino (who came out the winner), and the lovely Latoya London.
Here she is tearing up Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself”. It was one of her most lauded performances on the show:
Year 3 on “American Idol” was a controversial one. It was the year that Sir Elton John accused the nation of racism for sending the three black and talented ‘divas’ to the bottom three during one week’s show. He was only vocalizing the same shock that every right-minded person felt that week. How could Jasmine Trias be voted safe and Jennifer Hudson sent packing? Though Latoya was genuine vocal talent , America wound up sending the raggedy voiced (I mean that in a good way) and soulful Fantasia Barrino through to the prime position. To be fair, after she performed “Summertime”, she was a lock.
But, it’s a shame that Latoya competed in year three. Fantasia was unstoppable and Latoya was just unlucky to be the polished and uninteresting one stood next to Barrino’s hurricane talent and interesting backstory. Really…Fantasia had a love-child at seventeen and broke up with her babydaddy because of physical abuse–now she was looking to make good and give her poor child a better future. London was just a good looking Oakland girl with great pipes who had a comfortable career singing at weddings. Sure she had some step-children, but big deal! Who doesn’t nowadays? Boring! Who would you vote for?
I voted for Latoya once and I never vote for these things. That’s how much I liked her. Did you know that when she was little she used to sing all the words to Frankie Smith’s “Double Dutch Bus”? I love that song. Look, Latoya and me, we have so much in common! “Double Dutch Bus” is the song that Missy Elliot samples in “Gossip Folks”, in case you were wondering. It’s also been sampled by Snoop and Hitman Sammy Sam. Smith is also the guy that started that whole izzle shizzle thing…not Snoop…he just borrows it. Anyway, Latoya was smooth as chocolate pudding and hot to boot. Nothing wrong with that combination. Happily, she did go on to cut a record (eventually). She’s currently working on her second one.
Ironically, while Fantasia went on to star in “The Color Purple” on broadway, Latoya landed the gig in the touring company. Always a second fiddle! Still, she did get positive write-ups and at least she’s working. Here’s her showtune week video which was also her swan song. She’s toe to toe with Barbara Streisand and top of the world–right before her parade gets rained on.
Really, Latoya is one of about a dozen people from the last seven seasons that I thought were worthy contenders. I’ve often wondered whatever happened to postwoman Vonzell Solomon. She came in third during year four. She’s the CEO of her own record company now and you can buy her single on Itunes, apparently. Still, it’d be nice if she were a bit more visible now. If Josh Gracin can do it, why not her? Anyway, here’s to all those shoulda-beens. Hope I can buy your Christmas album soon.