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.