I was a huge fan of yours this season. From week one, I picked you as my favorite, and told people that you were amazing. I enjoyed all of your performances this season and even have some old episodes of American Idol saved on my DVR for random rewatching. Due to the reality of the show, I figured that despite your superior vocal ability, you would not be in the finals (the best singer never wins). Even so, I was disappointed to see you voted off last night.
I do have a plan for you, Melinda. Because I am well versed in all things music industry related (by which I simply mean I own many CDs, and 1 iTunes download) I feel that my advice would be extremely valuable to you. Here it is:
Release a gospel CD.
That's it. You already are a gospel fan, and we both like the same artists. I can't remember your list that you mentioned on an episode a while back, but I am certain it included Fred Hammond, my all time favorite. If you expressed interest, I'm sure you could get all the heavyweights in the gospel music industry to work with you on your debut album.
Do not release a "mainstream" album.
What I do suggest is that you work with your label on creating an upbeat, crossover song to launch your gospel career. Deliberately make it a song that can be played on any station - the equivalent of a "Shackles" by Mary Mary.
A failed secular release with a subsequent gospel turn can be disastrous (see, Studdard, Reuben). Keep it simple. You strike me as somebody who wouldn't quite fit in with the modern (i.e. gross) R&B scene anyway - your style is way too classic. The audience and the styles in gospel would be a perfect match for you and your voice.
Here's to an excellent debut album! I'll be waiting for it!