'AI's' Top 12: Before They Were 'Idols'
March 14, 2006

Ace Young may be the heartthrob on "American Idol," but it seems the rising star has a secret up his sleeve. Brace yourselves ladies -- Ace Young has quietly been dating "Half & Half" actress Essence Atkins for more than a year.

Only "Extra" dug up Ace's appearance on her series in which he sang. TMZ.com caught up with Atkins, asking her what every girl wants to know: is Ace a good kisser? "No comment," she responded.

But Ace isn't the only "Idol" we found before their debut on the hit FOX show. We dug up old footage of Kevin Covais in a New York talent show with his ex-girlfriend. It turns out Kevin's former lovebird is also a sensational songbird; she beat her "Idol" in the competition.

Before hitting "Idol," Taylor Hicks hit the stage with his own band, Little Memphis Blues Orchestra." Only "Extra" has the video of the bluesy Taylor crooning with his Alabama buddies last year.

And here's a hair-raising fact about the salt-and-peppered "Gray Charles." Taylor, who is 29, started going gray at age 15.

Meanwhile, Elliott Yamin recently broke a shocker on "Idol," revealing that he has a 90 percent hearing loss in his right year. Before "Idol," Yamin spent his time jamming jingles at his former job with a Virginia Radio station.

So there you have it, everything you never knew about your favorite "American Idols." For more, tune into "American Idol," Tuesday nights on FOX.


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