North Carolina native and "American Idol" alum Chris Daughtry started to take singing seriously at the age of 16, when he became a performer with various high school rock bands.
His first public appearance was a performance of "Achy Breaky Heart" at his grandfather's bar, and in high school he appeared in two stage productions: "The Wiz" and "Peter Pan."
Daughtry has since moved on, swapping bars and high school stages for sold-out arenas. He's now an established rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and the lead vocalist of Daughtry, a band he formed in 2006 after coming in fourth on the highly publicized fifth season of "Idol."
His stint on the incredibly popular Fox show is not the first time Daughtry tried his luck on a reality TV talent competition. In 2005, he auditioned for the CBS signing contest, "Rock Star: INXS," but did not make the cut for the actual filming of the show.
Not to be discouraged, Daughtry auditioned for "American Idol" in Denver. With his rendition of the Boxtops' "The Letter," he was portrayed as a young rocker with Southern and hard rock influences.
Daughtry passed the audition, but not unanimously: He was approved by Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, and denied by the less than gracious Simon Cowell, who found Daughtry to be "robotic."
Cowell's concerns would be dismissed as Daughtry blew away the competition, delivering performance after electrifying performance. Shock swept "Idol" fans across the country on May 10, 2006, when Ryan Seacrest announced that Daughtry had been eliminated.
His exit caused such a stir that Ellen Degeneres jokingly asked President Bush and former President Clinton, when they appeared on her show, whether they had a solution to what was considered a grave mistake on the part of "American Idol."
However, his surprising exit did not hinder his career. Daughtry received an offer to become Fuel's lead singer, but he declined.
After leaving "Idol," his band's self-titled debut album sold more than 1 million copies after just five weeks of release, becoming the fastest selling debut rock album of all time.
'Right Here Waiting'
Raised in North Carolina, Daughtry was influenced by ballads he heard on the radio. About the singer Richard Marx, the "American Idol" star explained how "Right Here Waiting For You" and other similar ballads sparked his interest in music.
"His voice is just super amazing," Daughtry said. "I remember as a kid, going back, when music wasn't important to me, there were always songs that made me want to turn it up and listen to, I was always really sucked in by ballads."
'The Day I Tried to Live'
In 1994, when grunge was at its height of popularity, Daughtry was undeniably a fan of the counter-culture genre, and especially fond of Seattle-based band Soundgarden.
"At the time I was really big into the 'Superunknown' record. I remember on the 'Superunknown' record…gosh there were so many great songs on that record," he said.
Speaking of commanding vocals by the band that inspired him, Daughtry said, "'Day I Tried to Live' was definitely one of my favorites. I don't know, his voice was just so powerful. I was never one to pay attention to the lyrics…He could have been singing about anything and it wouldn't have mattered because it just seemed so real to them and it was compelling, it pulled you in and made you want to listen."
'Madman Across the Water'
But Daughtry, an aspiring musician, also finds inspiration in the classics. "Recently I started going back and listening to Elton John," said Daughtry. "The first record that I got, I think I was 20, and it was 'Tumbleweed Connection.'"
Referring to the 1971 classic, Daughtry explained his appreciation of John and one of his best-loved songs. "'Mad Man Across the Water' was definitely a song that made me really want to hear more about him and some of his older stuff and where it started with him."
Daughtry, who is married, explained the significance of Alan Jackson's 2004 No. 1 single to his relationship with his wife. "There's a song that my wife will always call me when it's playing or vice versa and it's by Alan Jackson and it's called 'Remember When' and it's kind of what every married couple would want their life to turn out to."
'These Arms of Mine'
Daughtry also admires the vocal talents of the 60s-era deep soul singer Otis Redding. "Otis Redding -- 'These Arms of Mine,' something about the real subtlety of the way it breathes and, you know, allows the vocals to just stand out and his voice is just so unbelievable. I don't think anyone sings like that anymore."