'American Idol' Christian Crew Pumps Up the Church

Christian singers are continuing to show success in the sixth season of American Idol as three Gospel Music Association (GMA) favorites - Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, and Chris Sligh - moved on past the vote last week.

Among the contestants, one more vocalist has emerged as having a gospel music background – Phil Stacey, minister of music at First Coast Christian in Jacksonville, Fla.

This places four Christian artists among the final 11, encouraging viewers that this year's winner may represent Christian talent.

Besides his connection with the church, Stacey also attends Liberty University, an independent fine arts Baptist university located in Lynchburg, Va.

Despite the fact that he passed this week's vote, Stacey was one of the bottom vote-getters and may have to struggle to stay alive in the competition.

The GMA has been strongly supporting the four contestants, making them a large part of their weekly GMAil - a weekly industry email newsletter that contains weekly charts, news, links to resources, and information about upcoming industry events, available to GMA members only.

Besides the GMA, other groups are spurring on the finalists.

According to GMAil, Christian elite Michael W. Smith is telling his fans to vote for Sparks on his website; Music City is pushing for Doolittle, a graduate of Nashville Christian school Belmont University, as well as the local Fox affiliate; and Sligh's home church in South Carolina holds weekly American Idol parties to support their favorite.

This past week, contestants sang to a Diana Ross theme night. On the upcoming show on Tuesday, the theme will be the British invasion.

American Idol is viewed by over 30 million Americans each week while 28 million votes were cast this last week.

GMA is also looking for more information on any performers with gospel roots.