Katharine McPhee Biography
Born in Los Angeles, California, McPhee moved with her family to Sherman Oaks at age 12. McPhee has been singing since the age of two. Her mother, Patricia Burch McPhee (stage name Peisha Arten), a vocal coach and accomplished cabaret singer, recognized her daughter's musical talent and decided to train her. Her father, Daniel McPhee, is a television producer. McPhee has an older sister, Adriana. McPhee is of Irish, Scottish and German descent.
McPhee attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, where she performed in school plays and musicals. She graduated in 2002.
McPhee attended Boston Conservatory for three semesters, majoring in musical theater. She left the college on the advice of her manager and returned to Los Angeles to try out for television pilots. In a People news article, it was reported that she was rejected for "195 out of 200 auditions."
McPhee struggled with eating disorders in the past. She told People (magazine) that at age 13 she began starving herself and exercising compulsively, and she became bulimic at age 17. McPhee gained weight in college due to her binging. After seven years of illness, she finally entered a three-month rehab program after successfully passing her American Idol audition; her rehab stint ended just before the Idol semifinals started in February 2006. During her run on American Idol, she lost 30 pounds due to eating better as part of her treatment. Now, as she told Teen Vogue in May 2007, "I eat whatever I crave—I'm just really careful about portions."
McPhee and her sister appeared on debut of The Dr. Keith Ablow Show on September 18, 2006, to discuss her struggles with bulimia and her childhood fear of her father. On the show, McPhee stated that she was misdiagnosed with a learning disability during her middle school years but was finally correctly diagnosed with a vision problem that caused her to have trouble reading in class. McPhee claimed she was known as the "pretty, but stupid" girl in school because she had trouble reading.
On February 2, 2008, McPhee married her boyfriend, Nick Cokas, who is nearly 20 years her senior, in a Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.
McPhee was persuaded by Nick Cokas and her parents to try out for American Idol. She auditioned in San Francisco, and sang "God Bless the Child", originally performed by Billie Holiday.
After the first round of Hollywood week, she sang "I'll Never Love This Way Again" by Dionne Warwick which earned favorable comments from the judges. During the second round, she performed in a group, singing "I Can't Help Myself" by The Four Tops, forgetting the words, but the judges decided to advance the entire group. During the third round, she sang a Capella of "My Funny Valentine" and advanced to the top 40. She was mad when fellow group member Crystal Stark didn't make the top 24. When she was told that she would be advancing, she kissed all three judges on the lips.
McPhee's run on American Idol led to the popular use of the term "McPheever", coined by Ralph Garman of Los Angeles radio station KROQ's morning show Kevin and Bean.
The inclusion of producer David Foster and singer Andrea Bocelli as guest mentors for Top 6 Week turned out to be a fortuitous introduction for McPhee, as she has worked on various music projects with both men post-Idol.
McPhee visited her former high school for her hometown celebration. Antonio Villaraigosa visited Notre Dame High School and proclaimed McPhee's visit as "Katharine McPhee Day."
On June 6, 2006, Sony BMG and 19 Entertainment announced that McPhee had signed to American Idol series creator Simon Fuller's 19 Recordings Limited and Sony BMG's RCA Records.
On June 9-11, 2006, McPhee performed with Andrea Bocelli at 3 of his California concerts. They sang duets of "The Prayer" and "Somos Novios".
McPhee performed at the J.C. Penney Jam: Concert for America's Kids in June 2006 (David Foster was the music director), soloing with "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and performing a duet with Andrea Bocelli on "Somos Novios". The concert was telecast on CBS August 22, 2006 and J.C. Penney sold an exclusive CD/DVD of the concert.
McPhee's Idol single, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/My Destiny" was released on June 27, 2006 by RCA Records. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" peaked at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "My Destiny" peaked at #60. Thirty-two weeks after its release, Somewhere Over the Rainbow/My Destiny had climbed to #4 on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales charts. It was the 2nd highest best-selling single of 2006 after Taylor Hicks's "Do I Make You Proud". "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/My Destiny" continued to chart for more than 58 weeks.
In July, McPhee missed the first 3 weeks of the American Idol Tour due to laryngitis and severe bronchitis. She joined the tour beginning with the July 28 show in Washington, D.C., singing only 2 songs "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" instead of the usual 4 on doctor's orders to conserve her voice. At the August 1 concert in Charlotte, N.C., McPhee suffered a hairline fracture of her foot when she tripped backstage and was fitted with a walking boot cast. Once she recovered from the foot injury, she added "Think" to her concert set.
McPhee recorded a duet with Andrea Bocelli on "Can't Help Falling In Love" for his Under the Desert Sky album, which was released as a CD/DVD package on November 7, 2006.
McPhee's self-titled debut album, Katharine McPhee was released on January 30, 2007 and sold 116,000 copies its first week, debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.
The first single from the album was "Over It", which was officially released on the same day as the album and peaked at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song's music video hit #1 on both TRL and VH1's Top 20 countdown, maintaining the top position on VH1 for 3 consecutive weeks. The video also hit #1 on MTV Asia's Pop 10 Chart for 12 consecutive weeks.
On May 22, 2007, RCA released "Love Story", the second single from McPhee's debut album. "Love Story" failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100, though it did reach #38 on the Canadian Hot 100, and its video stayed at #1 on MTV Asia for 5 consecutive weeks.
On May 30, 2007, McPhee performed at the WELL DONE Awards in Aliso Viejo, CA and was awarded by a WELL DONE Award by the Kingdom Assignment for her McPhee Outreach.
During the 2007 Christmas holiday season, McPhee released a Christmas single "O Come All Ye Faithful".
On January 11, 2008, it was reported by Billboard.com that McPhee had been released from her contract with RCA Records, through speculation that the label was dissatisfied with lack of overall sales of her debut album. A spokesperson for the label confirmed this in a statement reading: "Katharine McPhee has moved on to support her other entertainment activities. She is going to record her next album on her own."
McPhee appeared on Idol judge Randy Jackson's album Randy Jackson's Music Club, Vol. 1, which was released on March 11, 2008. McPhee recorded a duet of "Real Love" with fellow American Idol 5 contestant Elliott Yamin. "Real Love" was released as a second single, due to the high popularity of the song on Itunes.
On March 12, 2008, McPhee returned to the American Idol stage during the Top 12 results night of the seventh season of the competition. She performed the Beatles song "Something", with producer David Foster, on piano. After the performance, Foster confirmed that he and McPhee were collaborating on her second studio album.
McPhee took part in the David Foster tribute concert Hit Man: David Foster & Friends, which was filmed by PBS, in May 2008. She soloed on "Somewhere" and performed a duet of "The Prayer" with Andrea Bocelli. A CD/DVD of the concert was released in November 2008. The show was shown several times on PBS starting in December 2008 under their "Great Performances" title.
David Foster recorded a new song entitled, "I Will Be There With You" for Japan Airlines (JAL), with McPhee on vocals. Starting about June, 2008, it was used to promote the introduction of new aircraft to JAL's US flights.
On July 16, 2008, McPhee released a cover of the song "I Know What Boys Like", featuring the other cast members of the movie The House Bunny.
McPhee recorded a cover of the song "Connected" for the Mattel movie Barbie and the Diamond Castle. McPhee's version of the song was produced by Room For Two and a music video was also recorded to be featured on the movie's DVD. The video and song are available on the movie's website. The soundtrack CD and movie DVD and Blu-ray were released for sale in September 2008.
McPhee took part in the concert Chris Botti: Live In Boston, which was filmed by PBS, in September 2008. She sang "I've Got You Under My Skin" accompanied by Chris Botti on trumpet. The show was shown several times on PBS starting in January 2009. The CD/DVD and Blu-ray were released March 31, 2009.
McPhee recorded the song "Let Your Heart Sing" for the Disney movie Tinker Bell. The movie DVD and the soundtrack CD (featuring the song) were released in October 2008.
It was announced on January 27, 2009 that McPhee signed a new record deal with Verve Forecast Records (a label group under Universal Music Group). "The album she is working on will show many new sides to her talents as an interpreter and a songwriter, and show everyone just how special she is," Verve Music Group president/CEO Bruce Resnikoff says.
For her second effort, McPhee is working with producer John Alagia. The BMI song repertoire indicates that she has worked with a large range of writers including Richard Marx, Troy Verges, and Barry Dean. According to Amazon.com, the album, titled "Unbroken", will be released on October 6, 2009.