People Staff
July 01, 2008 12:00 AM

American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook, season 7’s plucky cowgirl who braved Simon Cowell‘s barbs week after week, has inked a record deal with a country music label.

Cook, the seventh place finisher whose performance of the Beatles’s “Eight Days a Week” was compared to “Dolly Parton on helium” by Cowell, had positioned herself as this year’s country artist on Idol, singing selections from Martina McBride and Lee Greenwood. Now, she’ll be a label mate of the show’s most famous country star, Carrie Underwood, after signing with 19 Recordings/Arista Nashville.

Cook, a 24-year-old native of Selma, Oregon, will release her first single, the up-tempo “15 Minutes of Shame” on August 11 and she’ll record her album (produced by Brett James, one of the songwriters behind Underwood’s hit “Jesus Take the Wheel”) between Idol tour dates. Her album is expected to be released this fall.

“I’ve wanted this for so many years,” Cook said in a statement. “To have the chance to be a country singer — to make the music I love — and to have enjoyed the support of so many American Idol fans this past season, it all means more than I can put into words.”

Sony BMG Nashville Chairman Joe Galante said Cook will be “very relatable to the country audience and is destined to have hits.” — Eileen FinanJennifer Buhl/Pacificcoastnews

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