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`Over the Rainbow' still sums it up for McPhee

December 18, 2006|Tribune Media Services

Even if you finish second on "American Idol," life gets very busy very fast. Just ask Katharine McPhee.

The Fox singing competition's runner-up from last season is in high demand for Christmas appearances. One program she agreed to do is "A Home for the Holidays," the eighth edition of the CBS special that advocates adoption. Airing Friday at 8 p.m., it also features tunes by Rod Stewart, John Legend, Five for Fighting and gospel's Mary Mary.

Angie Harmon and current CBS series stars Melina Kanakaredes ("CSI: NY") and Jeri Ryan ("Shark") introduce stories about youngsters whose lives have been bettered by the families who took them in. During the program, McPhee reprises her version of "Over the Rainbow" that brought her toe to toe with eventual winner Taylor Hicks in last spring's "American Idol" final.

"You get offered to do something," she reflects, "and people ask, 'Why did you want to?' First, they asked me to, but I really get connected when I get the information about what it is. They gave me the facts about how many kids get adopted after it airs. It's so amazing, it makes it something really special."

McPhee is pleased to croon "Over the Rainbow" again. She explains, "I have music in my family, so I grew up on the old standards. Of course, I still listen to contemporary pop and R&B, but I remember watching 'The Wizard of Oz' over and over again. I was always scared of the Wicked Witch of the West, but I loved Dorothy."

Laryngitis forced McPhee to miss some early dates on last summer's "American Idol" concert tour, but her schedule has made up for it since.

"You'd think things would slow down a little, but I'm pretty much busy right up to the end of the year," she reports. "I speak to Chris and Kellie [fellow 'Idol' alumni Daughtry and Pickler] a lot, and they're busy as well. Luckily, I have so many great people around me who take care of things, I don't have to remember it all. I just focus on what I have to do for the day."

Still working on her debut album, McPhee doesn't mind taking longer to turn hers out than other "Idol" veterans did.

"I get to make all the decisions in my own time," she says. "I'm going to put out the album when I think it's ready, even though the record people might want it at a certain time. I'm trying to be in control of things as much as I can, and that's the difference between being on 'American Idol' and having a career after it."

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