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Georgias Idol lends country style to June Jam
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Former "American Idol" contestant and Snellville native, Diana DeGarmo, will perform at Saturday's June Jam in Gainesville.

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Diana DeGarmo talks about what she's been up to while living in Nashville, Tenn., and also about her appearance in Broadway's "Hairspray."

While still in her teens, Georgia's own Diana DeGarmo shot into the spotlight after landing a spot in Hollywood on "American Idol." She went on to finish second, next to Fantasia Barrino, in 2004.

And now just weeks away from her 21st birthday, DeGarmo lives in Nashville, Tenn., and is pursuing a career in country music.

"I love the music community (in Nashville) for me right now," she said. "It's been so welcoming and so much fun to be around, and I really love Nashville. I call it a little town with a big city heart. But Atlanta is my home and I will always feel a connection going back there."

Fans back in her home state will have a chance to hear DeGarmo's new brand of country music at the second annual June Jam this Saturday at the Brenau Amphitheater.

"I'm going to try and introduce a song or two," DeGarmo said. "I'm definitely going to be singing some old songs, some new songs and just having a good time."

The Snellville native also said she would be singing "Right Back Where We Ended," a song she performed on CMT's reality show "Gone Country."

Since DeGarmo appeared on "American Idol" she said she has been busy advancing different aspects of her career.

She toured with the top 10 American Idols in 2004, she released a single called "Dreams," which was the third best-selling single of that year and her album "Blue Skies" was released later that year.

Then in 2005 DeGarmo made her theatrical premiere as Maria in the San Jose, Calif., production of "West Side Story," then went on to Broadway to play Penny Lou Pingleton in "Hairspray."

Currently DeGarmo is working with producer John Rich, also of "Gone Country," on a new country-inspired album.

"I'm up here recording and writing and working with Mr. John Rich ... having a good time," she said. "We are actually going to be getting in the studio in a week or two. I have some great new music that we are working on, and I just can't wait for other people to hear it.

"I am putting all my time, money, effort, everything into living here and writing and recording and being who I am and that's where I like to be."

DeGarmo said country is a departure from her more recent work but that it's kind of like going back to her roots.

"It's country with a little bit of pop," she said. "It's kind of one of those things, I'll never lose where I've been and where I'm going. I always take the influences from pop and singing R&B and all that ... but I started off doing country music so it's funny how life brings you full circle."

DeGarmo will be headlining the second June Jam and local bands Peggie Hoskins and The Vertigo and The Allen Nivens Band will be opening for the Southern songstress.

"We are going to do about half originals of songs I've written and the other half some cover tunes," Hoskins said. "It will be somewhere in the genre of blues, rock, funk. I'm going to do my song ‘Good Rain,' which was used for the Atlanta Women's Film Festival ... and my song ‘On My Knees.' And then Ivan Duke is also going to do a couple of his original songs and sit in with us. He's a local country artist."

This is one of two charity shows Hoskins is performing at this weekend. The other is a benefit in memory of her friend Alice Long, who passed away last month. That show takes place on Sunday at Doubleshots in Cumming.

The American Flyers, of Atlanta, will be closing out the charity event.

Proceeds will go to a charity chosen by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle as well as to Hall-Dawson Court Appointed Special Advocates.

"Our goal is $100,000," said Mitch Farmer, representative of Keller Williams Realty in Gainesville, which is organizing the event. "We have 40-something tables committed to and, I hope, good weather."

Last year, June Jam raised nearly $25,000 for local charities.

There also will be children's activities provided by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County and the Atlanta Falcons cheerleaders will make an appearance.

Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic and beverages of their choice; Smokehouse Barbecue also will have plates for sale.

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