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"My dad and my mom both love music," this singer says of his influences growing up. But for him, the love of the spotlight came first. "I liked to put on costumes. I thought capes were like the look." Can you guess who he is? (See the answer on the next slide!)
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He may not be wearing many capes these days, but Lambert, 27, does have a distinctively edgy look. "I get bored with my clothing and my image and I like to revamp it from time to time," he says.
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At her first solo gig at Sharpe Elementary, this singer brought down the house. "I sang 'Silent Night,'" she recalls. "It went very well. I got a standing ovation." Can you guess who she is?
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Now 24, Lil Rounds, who is named after her grandmother Lillie, is married and has three kids. "They're all really excited about [my being on Idol] and they know I'm doing this for the family," she says. "They gave me a nickname, they call me 'American Idol Girl' or 'American Idol Momma.' It's the cutest."
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As a child, "I used to sing a lot," says this Belleville, Mich., native. "I'd stand up on the table and say 'Hallelujiah' in a restaurant. I've always been a jokester. I like to entertain people." Can you guess who he is?
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"In school, I got by, but I wasn't like this amazing student," says the singer, 23. "The only thing I was the best at was playing piano and singing. That was just, like, what I did – it was almost like it was just what I was supposed to be doing."
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The Los Angeles-based singer says that in grade school, "I was a little troublemaker. They used to sit me in the corner because I would talk so much. I'm still a talker but I've learned to control myself." Can you guess who she is?
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The 16-year-old first showed off her voice at age 5, and later learned to sing in Spanish. "She learned so she could sing for my mother," Allison's mom, Sara, told PEOPLE. "She sang for my mother in '99, and then in 2000 my mother passed away."
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"I was musical [as a kid]," says this singer from Milwaukee, "but I don't think I really understood I was good until my dad complimented me once [at age 12] – and it changed by life." Can you guess who he is?
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"We would always sing with my family at church," says Gokey, 28, who lost his fiancée just weeks before auditioning for Idol. "I love my family, they mean a lot to me. They've always been supportive of me."
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AGE 8 MONTHS
"I was a really shy kid," says this contestant, whose dad taught him to play the guitar and who played the viola from 4th to 12th grade. "I actually listened to a lot of Michael Jackson as a kid," he says. But "my first CD I ever bought was TLC's CrazySexyCool."
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Now 23, he's married to his high school sweetheart. "We had known each other since I was in fifth grade, she was a year younger than me," Allen says of his wife, Katie. "Then in the tenth grade, we started dating." After a few on-and-off periods, including during college, "things are good now. We've been married five months."
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"My mom and I would do this little routine all the time where she'd wash my hair and put it in curlers and I'd wrap up in this blanket and roll around," she says of growing up in Taylorsville, Utah. Can you guess who she is?
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MEGAN JOY CORKREY
Still in Utah and now mom to a 2-year-old, the ambitious Corkrey says, "My tattoo is a castle with stained-glass windows picturing a king and a queen, which are me and my mystery man." And who might that be? "I don't know yet," she says. "I'm still looking for him. He's out there somewhere."
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Raised in North Carolina, this singer says, "I've been told I was a very calm, collected baby. I didn't cry much. Surprise, right?" Can you guess who he is?
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The graduate student, who joined his elementary school choir and also sang in high school, remembers his very first musical experience. Says Desai, now 22, "There's a video of me somewhere singing 'Twinkle Little Star' when I was about two in South Africa with my mom's parents."
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Born in Redondo Beach, Calif., he started playing piano at age 3 and was already composing music two years later. "I've known for years this is where my heart is," the singer tells PEOPLE. Can you guess who he is?
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Now living in Scottsdale, Ariz., MacIntyre, 23, says his lifelong blindness is like "looking through a coffee straw at the world." But his family has always been supportive. "We have a family quartet," he says. "Everyone but my dad. He auditions every year but never makes the cut."
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AGE 11 MONTHS
"I look just like my son. That almost makes me want to cry!" says this dad of two kids, Grayson and McKenna, of his baby photo. Can you guess who he is?
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"Music really came along in my life at a hard time," he tells PEOPLE of discovering his talent at age 11, when "there was a bit of abuse going on in my home." Sarver, who says his mom quickly got him out of the situation, found inspiration in a certain country star. "I thought Garth Brooks hung the moon," he says. "I found a lot of comfort in his lyrics."