The third-place finalist on season four of American Idol, Vonzell Solomon -- also known as Baby V -- has a sweet but powerful voice that suited the soul and Motown fare she sang on the show perfectly. Growing up in Fort Myers, FL, Solomon studied at the Cypress Lake Center for the Arts, and received four years' worth of classical vocal training. She also studied martial arts (her father is an instructor) and holds a black belt in sembact martial arts, combining karate, jujitsu, and tae kwon do. Solomon auditioned for P. Diddy's 2002 MTV reality series/band project Making the Band 2, but didn't make the cut; she also tried out for American Idol's second season and was rejected. Solomon worked at the Tice, FL, branch of the United States Postal Service and sang with local groups; in April 2004 she released the demo album My Struggle, and auditioned for American Idol's fourth season later that year. After securing a finalist spot on the show in February 2005, her performances of songs such as the Emotions' "Best of My Love" and Dionne Warwick's "I'll Never Love This Way Again" made her enough of a fan favorite that she finished third, behind Bo Bice and that season's winner, Carrie Underwood.
After the show ended, Solomon was the highest-placing contestant not to be offered a recording contract; however, she founded her own label, Melodic Records, and also served as a spokesperson for the USPS. In 2007, My Struggle was released, credited to Baby V. That year, she also appeared in the film Still Green. The following year, Solomon appeared with the touring company of the musical Strictly Ballroom. That summer, she was apprehended at the Southwest Florida International Airport by security guards because she brought an unloaded gun with her; she was given a misdemeanor charge of carrying a weapon into an airport. She was due in court later that summer, and was expected to release a single that August. Solomon also participated in the 2008 Idol Camp, an American Idol-affiliated performing arts summer camp. ~ Heather Phares