Her self-titled debut album was released on RCA Records on January 30, 2007 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200; it has sold 381,000 copies to date. The album’s first single, “Over It“, was a Pop Top 30 hit and was certified gold in 2008.
Her second album, Unbroken, was released on Verve Forecast Records on January 5, 2010 and debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200. The album featured the single “Had It All“, which peaked at #22 on the Billboard AC chart. It has sold 45,000 copies to date. Her third album, the holiday-themed Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You, was released on October 12, 2010. The album debuted at #11 on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart while the single “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” peaked at #16 on the Billboard AC chart. The album has sold 23,000 copies to date.
McPhee has also established an acting career, for example co-starring in The House Bunny in 2008 as the hippie sorority sister Harmony, and co-starring in the upcoming NBC series Smash.
McPhee was born March 25, 1984 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. She attended Boston Conservatory for three semesters, majoring in musical theater. She left college on the advice of her manager and returned to Los Angeles to try out for television pilots.
McPhee has 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 rehabilitation 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 lb (14 kg) 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.
McPhee was persuaded by now-husband Nick Cokas and her parents to try out for the television series competition, 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 use of the term “McPheever”. 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.
In May 2006, McPhee visited her alma mater Notre Dame High School for her hometown celebration. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa visited the school and proclaimed the day Katharine McPhee Day.
Performances and results (during voting weeks)
|Week #||Theme||Song choice||Original artist||Result|
|Top 24 (12 Women)||Free Choice||“Since I Fell for You“||Lenny Welch||Safe|
|Top 20 (10 Women)||Free Choice||“All in Love is Fair”||Stevie Wonder||Safe|
|Top 16 (8 Women)||Free Choice||“Think“||Aretha Franklin||Safe|
|Top 12||Stevie Wonder||“Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)“||Stevie Wonder||Safe|
|Top 11||The 1950s||“Come Rain or Come Shine“||Sy Oliver (with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra)||Safe|
|Top 10||Songs from The 21st Century||“The Voice Within“||Christina Aguilera||Bottom 2|
|Top 9||Country||“Bringing Out the Elvis”||Faith Hill||Safe|
|Top 8||Songs by Queen||“Who Wants to Live Forever“||Queen||Safe|
|Top 7||The Great American Songbook||“Someone to Watch Over Me“||Gertrude Lawrence||Safe|
|Top 6||Great Love Songs||“I Have Nothing“||Whitney Houston||Top 2|
|Top 5||One Song From the Year They Were Born (1984)
One Song on the Billboard Charts at the time
|“Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)“
“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree“
|Top 4||Elvis Presley||“Hound Dog“/”All Shook Up“
“Can’t Help Falling in Love“
|Big Mama Thornton / Elvis Presley||Bottom 2|
|Top 3||Clive Davis‘s choice
Judge’s Choice (Simon Cowell)
|“I Believe I Can Fly“
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow“
“I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues“
|“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
2006: Post Idol
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.
McPhee performed at the J.C. Penney Jam: Concert for America’s Kids in June 2006, 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. 32 weeks after its release, Somewhere Over the Rainbow/My Destiny had climbed to #4 on the Billboard Hot Singles Sales charts. It was the second highest best-selling single of 2006 after Taylor Hicks‘ “Do I Make You Proud“. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/My Destiny” remained on the chart for more than 58 weeks.
In July, McPhee missed the first three weeks of the American Idol Tour due to laryngitis and bronchitis. She joined the tour beginning with the July 28 show in Washington, D.C., singing only two 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, North Carolina, 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.
2007–2008: Katharine McPhee
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 second single, “Love Story“, was released on May 22, 2007, but failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100.
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 stated, “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 indicated that he and McPhee were collaborating on her second studio album (though it ended up that he was not part of the finished product).
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 concert 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 soundtrack CD of the Disney movie Tinker Bell. The movie DVD and the soundtrack CD were released in October 2008.
It was announced on January 27, 2009 that McPhee signed a new record deal with Verve Forecast Records (part of the Verve Music 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, titled Unbroken, McPhee worked with producer John Alagia. The BMI song repertoire indicates that she worked with a large range of writers including Richard Marx, Troy Verges, Alex James, and Barry Dean.
The first single from the album, “Had It All” was released to McPhee’s myspace page and made available for purchase on iTunes on August 25, 2009. The single was released to AC and Hot AC radio on September 21. The official music video for the song premiered on Vevo on October 13, 2009. The song is also a track on the Now That’s What I Call Music, Vol 32 compilation CD that was released November 3, 2009.
A Christmas single “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was released November 17, 2009 for purchase on iTunes and to AC radio.
Unbroken was released January 5, 2010 and debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 15,000 copies its first week.
McPhee took part in the United Negro College Fund‘s “An Evening of Stars” concert that was a tribute to singer/songwriter Lionel Richie. McPhee sang You Are. The concert was filmed September 12, 2009 and broadcast nationwide in syndication and on BET the weekend of January 23–24, 2010. A 2-disc DVD of the concert is available through a donation to the United Negro College Fund.
On February 1, 2010, McPhee joined over 75 other musicians for a remake of “We Are the World“, retitled “We Are the World 25 for Haiti“, which marked the 25th anniversary of the iconic song and for which proceeds will go to Haitian earthquake relief. McPhee was part of the group chorus.
During the week of February 8, 2010, in the pre-taped Hollywood Week portion of Season 9 of American Idol, contestant Didi Benami was shown singing “Terrified”, a song on the Unbroken album and written by Idol judge Kara DioGuardi. As a result of the exposure on Idol, digital downloads of the song (the album version featuring Jason Reeves) rose nearly 10,000% from the week before, selling about 20,000 copies for the week, for a total of 22,000 sold at that point.
On May 4, 2010, a new version of the Unbroken song “Terrified” featuring actor Zachary Levi (the original album version featured singer Jason Reeves) premiered on Entertainment Weekly‘s website and was made available for purchase on iTunes. The accompanying music video premiered on May 7, 2010 on the music video website Vevo.
On May 5, 2010, a Billboard list of the most successful American Idol contestants, based on album and single sales and radio play, ranked McPhee at number 16, ahead of fellow runners-up Bo Bice, Blake Lewis, Diana DeGarmo, and Justin Guarini, as well as season 5 champion Taylor Hicks, but behind fellow season 5 contestants Elliott Yamin, Kellie Pickler, and Chris Daughtry.
A music video for the song “Say Goodbye” from Unbroken was released on Vevo on October 4, 2010.
2010–2011: Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You
McPhee released a Christmas album titled Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You on October 12, 2010. The album debuted at #11 on the Billboard Top Holiday Albums chart and sold 1,000 copies in its first week.
Country singer Chelsea Field‘s song “Love’s Never Leavin'”, a song that McPhee cowrote with singer-songwriter Richard Marx and producer Trey Bruce, was made available for purchase on iTunes on November 9, 2010, with 100% of the proceeds to benefit the Tammany Humane Society in Covington, LA.
One of the Christmas album’s songs “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” was released to radio in November 2010 and peaked at #16 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart.
A music video for the song “It’s Not Christmas Without You” from McPhee’s Christmas album was premiered on Vevo on December 10, 2010.
2011–present: New deal with Columbia Records
On June 9, 2011, it was announced that McPhee had signed a new record deal with Columbia Records (part of the Columbia/Epic Label Group under Sony Music Entertainment), in conjunction with Columbia teaming with NBC to distribute the music for NBC’s TV series Smash.
Through 2008: Small roles, guest roles, and The House Bunny
McPhee was cast (during the time she had dropped out of college and was auditioning in Los Angeles) in a mall-based MTV soap opera pilot, You Are Here, playing the older sister of a more popular younger sister. MTV never aired the pilot and did not pick up the series.
McPhee had a small role as Paramount Girl in the 2007 musical film Crazy, based on the life of Hank Garland. McPhee filmed the role in early 2005, before she auditioned for American Idol.
In early 2007, McPhee guest-starred in the web series, lonelygirl15 as an unnamed character in the episode “Truth Or Dare”.
McPhee made a cameo appearance as herself on the ABC show Ugly Betty in the episode “I’m Coming Out“. The episode was broadcast Feb 1, 2007.
McPhee made her studio acting debut in the comedy The House Bunny (working title I Know What Boys Like), co-starring as one of the few members of a misfit sorority. The movie starred Anna Faris as a Playboy Bunny who took the girls under her wing. It was directed by Fred Wolf for Columbia Pictures and produced by Adam Sandler‘s Happy Madison Productions. The film was released in August 2008 and also co-starred Emma Stone and Rumer Willis.
2009–2010: Guest roles and The Pink House TV pilot
McPhee guest starred on the CBS show CSI: NY in the episode “Prey” as a singer and stalker victim who murdered her stalker. The episode was broadcast April 8, 2009.
McPhee joined forces with fellow actresses Alyson Hannigan, Jaime King, Minka Kelly and Emily Deschanel in a video slumber party made available in October 2009 and featured on FunnyorDie.com and other Internet platforms in a comedic take to promote regular breast cancer screenings for the organization Stand Up To Cancer.
McPhee guest starred on the NBC comedy Community in the episode “Basic Genealogy” as Chevy Chase‘s character’s ex-stepdaughter and potential love interest for Joel McHale‘s character. The episode was broadcast March 11, 2010.
McPhee made a TV pilot for a new comedy series for NBC called The Pink House. McPhee played Emily, a down-to-earth Midwestern girl new to Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles. The pilot was shot as a possible pickup for the Fall 2010 season and was produced by Conan O’Brien‘s production company, with O’Brien as executive producer. Shooting took place April 9, 2010. The pilot was not picked up by NBC.
In May 2010 McPhee was featured on MTV’s new show When I Was 17 (the episode premiered on May 22 and was repeated throughout the week). The show is a documentary about how life has changed since people were seventeen. Jonas Brother Kevin Jonas and Poison vocalist Bret Michaels were also featured on the episode.
2011–present: Smash TV series and movie roles
On July 31, 2010, McPhee tweeted to her fans that she had been in upstate New York working on the feature film Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding which stars Jane Fonda. At this time, there are no details on what role she’s playing (though it’s likely a small one since she’s not currently listed on the cast list on IMDB). McPhee appears to have completed filming her part after about a week according to a follow-up tweet, though filming continued through the end of August. The movie is set to come out in 2011.
McPhee will co-star in director David Ellis’ shark thriller indie film Shark Night 3D, which filmed in Shreveport, Louisiana for about eight weeks from early September to the end of October 2010. The movie is about a group of college friends who spend a weekend at a lake house, only to find dangerous sharks lurking beneath the surface. The film stars Sara Paxton. The budget is $28 million, and it is scheduled to be released September 2, 2011.
In 2009, McPhee was cast in a lead role in the independent romantic-comedy You May Not Kiss the Bride. The budget was set at $6 million. The movie filmed for 5 weeks in March and April 2009 in Oahu, Hawaii. McPhee played the role of Masha, alongside Dave Annable. The film debuted at the 14th Annual Sonoma International Film Festival that was held April 6–10 2011 The film is set to debut September 2, 2011 in one theater in Hawaii in a very limited initial US release and then open overseas in Russia, Romania, Hungary, Canada, and Latin America.
On April 28 2011, McPhee tweeted that she had just recorded a voiceover for an episode of the Fox animated series Family Guy, playing the voice of Mother Maggie. No word yet on when the episode airs.
It was announced on February 13, 2011 that McPhee had landed a co-starring role in the NBC TV pilot Smash, also starring Debra Messing, Megan Hilty, Anjelica Houston, Christian Borle, and Brian d’Arcy James. On May 11, 2011, it was reported that NBC had picked up Smash as a series. The series, set as a musical drama, follows a group of characters who come together to put on a Broadway musical inspired by Marilyn Monroe. Steven Spielberg will be an executive producer. The idea was originally developed at Showtime by NBC Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt. NBC will debut the series mid-season of the 2011–12 television season.
|2007||Crazy||Paramount Girl||Movie; cameo|
|2008||The House Bunny||Harmony||Movie; supporting role|
|2011||Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding||TBA||Movie; cameo; post-production|
|Shark Night 3D||Beth||Movie; co-star; post-production|
|You May Not Kiss the Bride||Masha||Movie; co-star; Limited release Sep 2|
|2007||lonelygirl15||Random Girl||Web series; guest role; episode: “Truth or Dare”|
|Ugly Betty||Herself||Television series; guest role; episode: “I’m Coming Out“|
|2009||CSI: NY||Odessa Shaw / Dana Melton||Television series; guest role; episode: “Prey“|
|2010||Community||Amber||Television series; guest role; episode: “Basic Genealogy“|
|2012||Smash||Karen Cartwright||Television series; lead role; In production|
|TBA||Family Guy||Mother Maggie||Television series; voice-only; post-production|
In March 2005, McPhee starred as Annie Oakley in a Los Angeles-based production of the musical Annie Get Your Gun. McPhee was nominated for an L.A. Stage Ovation Award in the category of “Lead Actress in a Musical”.
On February 22, 2010, McPhee appeared in the production of 110 Stories, directed by Mark Freiburger at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. She co-starred alongside Ed Asner, Diane Venora, Gail O’Grady, John Hawkes, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and many others. The play was a benefit to help the victims of the recent Haiti earthquake. Proceeds went to the Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles.
Major product endorsements
McPhee signed a two-year endorsement deal in 2006 with Sexy Hair Concepts to become their first celebrity spokesperson for their hair-care product line.
In 2008, McPhee signed a two-year endorsement deal with Neutrogena to become the new spokesperson for their anti-acne skin-care product line. In March 2008, she filmed her first commercial, which began airing on television in May 2008 and on Neutrogena’s skinid.com website.
In mid-2007, McPhee was named one of the year’s 100 Most Beautiful People by People; she was photographed without wearing make-up. She was also voted #2 on FHM‘s 100 Sexiest Women in The World of 2007 and #47 on Maxim‘s Hot 100 Women of 2007. At the end of 2007, AOL readers placed her as the Number 1 Sexiest American Idol contestant ever. In 2008 she was voted #38 on FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in The World and #43 on AskMen.com’s Top 99. In 2009 she was voted number #64 on AskMen.com’s Top 99.
In 2006, McPhee founded a charity called McPhee Outreach. The purpose of the charity is to team up with other foundations or organizations and help in any way possible.
The foundation teamed up with The Lollipop Theater Network to provide music outreach (called “Rhythm of Hope”) to sick children in Southern California hospitals.
McPhee Outreach teamed up with Global Compassion Services to build a preschool in the poor West African nation of Burkina Faso to help combat that nation’s high illiteracy rate.
McPhee is currently a member of the Entertainment Council of the US hunger-relief charity Feeding America (formerly known as America’s Second Harvest). Members, who are from various areas of the entertainment world, actively mobilize the public in support of Feeding America via media relations opportunities.
McPhee appeared on the Jan 19, 2010 episode of the NBC reality show The Biggest Loser (its ninth season) in the show’s Pound for Pound Challenge segment (an initiative to challenge viewers to get healthy while helping to fight hunger in their own communities). McPhee was shown volunteering at a Los Angeles food bank and meeting with children at a Boys and Girls Club and talking about the importance of helping to fight hunger in America. She was also shown singing part of her song Lifetime from her album Unbroken.
In the summer of 2010, McPhee partnered with Feeding America and ConAgra Foods Foundation to help launch the Hunger-Free Summer Initiative, which aimed to help children at risk of hunger during the summer months. Throughout the month of July, McPhee traveled around the country to various Feeding America food banks to raise awareness.
On December 15, 2010, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital released a video on their website for their Thanks and Giving Campaign that featured McPhee interacting with sick children at the hospital with her song “Lifetime” playing over the soundtrack.
- Fox Reality Awards 2006, Favorite Hottie
- VH1 2006 Big Awards, Big It Girl
- Young Hollywood Awards 2007, Exciting New Vocalist
- Ovation Awards 2005, “Lead Actress in a Musical”, for Annie Get Your Gun stage production
- Teen Choice Award 2006 and 2007, Choice Breakout Female Artist