Though Taylor Hicks' quirky soulfulness made him 2006's American Idol, runner-up Katharine McPhee's classic good looks and voice and affinity for traditional pop made her a strong contender throughout the season. In fact, she was one of the first semifinalists to make it to the final 12. A native of Sherman Oaks, CA, McPhee began singing at age two. Her mother, Patricia McPhee, is an established singer in her own right, performing and recording as Peisha McPhee. She helped Katharine develop as a vocalist and gave her more formal training than many American Idol hopefuls receive. Though McPhee sang and acted throughout her childhood and high-school years, she began taking singing more seriously in college, attending Boston Conservatory as a musical theater major. After three semesters, however, she left for Los Angeles to audition for film and television work. McPhee scored roles in the film Crazy, a musical about Hank Garland, and an MTV series, You Are Here, which didn't make it to the air. She also appeared in productions of Annie Get Your Gun and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir before auditioning for American Idol in 2005.