Youngest Finalist Wins Gospel Dream

College student Carli Marino won this year's "American Idol" style "Gospel Dream" talent contest with her debut album slated for 2007.

Youngest of 10 finalists, 19-year-old Marino launched her new gospel music recording career with millions of viewers watching her sing "I Surrender All" in the final sing-off Wednesday night.

"I'm so excited about winning Gospel Dream!" Marino exclaimed, according to a news release. "I can't believe this has happened ... I'm just overwhelmed!"

Marino will record her first album under Sony/BMG's Zomba Gospel Label - home to Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns and other top Christian artists.

The music label's head says the new music artist has everything needed to become a hit.

"We believe she embodies the total package needed to be a star," said Max Siegel, who served as a judge for Gospel Dream 2006. "Carli is a gifted performer with great style. We are very excited about her future as a recording artist.”

Marino, who currently attends a Christian college, Southeastern University, in Lakeland, Fla., was one of thousands of people from six U.S. regions who auditioned in June.

The final sing-off was held in Nashville, Tenn. on Dec. 1 where she competed with one of last year's Gospel Dream finalists, Dr. Gary Greenlee. Voters in an online poll chose to bring the 26-year-old chiropractor back to the stage for a second chance at becoming the next Gospel Dream winner.

But blue-eyed Marino grabbed the attention of the audience and took home the trophy.