LOS ANGELES – The 12 "American Idol" (search)semifinalists picked by television viewers include a Ukrainian-born college student, a martial arts black belt holder and a bartender-waitress.
The No. 1-rated Fox series, which is reaching up to 30 million viewers an episode in its fourth season, eliminated four contestants Wednesday to pare the field. Judges Simon Cowell (search), Randy Jackson (search) and Paula Abdul (search) had narrowed the field from thousands of hopefuls nationwide, but viewers decided the final dozen.
Gathered at a post-show celebration, the finalists exulted in their good fortune.
"Of course, I'm excited to be here," said Carrie Underwood, who was looking forward to celebrating her 22nd birthday Thursday. "It's amazing."
Constantine Maroulis echoed the sentiment. "I'm 29 years old and I've been working very hard in this business for a long time and to get this opportunity is just amazing," he said.
Men and women had been competing separately, but cross-gender competition will begin Tuesday, when the program returns to twice-weekly airings. Its finale is scheduled for May 24-25.
The 12 semifinalists competing for the title and a record contract are:
— Bo Bice, 29, Helena, Ala. Has performed live and recorded with Johnny Neel of the Allman Brothers.
— Anthony Fedorov, 19, Trevose, Pa. The Ukrainian-born Fedorov is a college student who sings on weekends in New York City.
— Constantine Maroulis, 29, New York City. A graduate of the Boston Conservatory, he has a hard rock band called Pray for the Soul of Betty.
— Anwar F. Robinson, 25, Elizabeth, N.J. Teaches at a New Jersey middle school and is a member of a group called The Perfect Combination.
— Scott Savol, 28, Shaker Heights, Ohio. Father of a 4-year-old, he plays the trumpet and performs at city and church functions.
— Mario Vazquez, 27, New York City. Was a member of the City Kids Repertory Group and works with emerging New York musical artists.
— Lindsey Cardinale, 20, Ponchatoula, La. A university student who plays guitar, piano and drums.
— Mikalah Gordon, 17, Las Vegas. A high school junior who performed at the White House with the Helen Joy Young Entertainers.
— Jessica Sierra, 19, Tampa, Fla. Works as a nanny and has performed at talent shows, corporate events and in church.
— Vonzell Solomon, 20, Fort Myers, Fla. Attended a high school for the arts and has a martial arts black belt.
— Nadia Turner, 28, Miami. A bartender and waitress and member of the Tool Box, a rock-soul Christian band.
— Carrie Underwood, 22, Checotah, Okla. A college senior, she plays guitar and piano and rescues stray animals.