Kimberly Locke: Lee Roth/Star Max/Newscom
Gary Susman
September 08, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Good news for fans of Kimberley Locke, who finished third behind Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken on ”American Idol” this year and has been a crowd-pleaser on the ”Idol” summer tour. According to Billboard, she signed a contract over the weekend with Curb Records. She’ll begin recording this week in her hometown of Nashville, with an eye toward releasing an album by the end of the year.

Label chief Mike Curb told Billboard he had been pulling for her to win the contest. ”On ‘American Idol’ we watched her sing everything from Neil Sedaka’s ‘Where the Boys Are’ to Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” to ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ to ‘Over the Rainbow,”’ he said. ”She put her own stamp on these classic songs. She’s a true pop artist who can sing in all genres.” When he learned she was still unsigned, he flew to a recent ”Idol” concert in Memphis to hear her live and offered her a contract on the spot.

That moment, along with others from the tour, has been captured on video, and it will be shown as part of a behind-the-scenes TV special about the tour, which will air on Fox on Sept. 24.

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