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Her father is African-American with French and Cherokee roots and her mother has German, English, Scottish, and Norwegian ancestry.
She grew up in the suburbs of Ridgewood, New Jersey, while her father played as a defensive back for the New York Giants.
She performed "Battlefield" on the May 13, 2009, episode of American Idol.
The following year, Sparks took part in a tribute to Simon Cowell with other former contestants at the ninth season finale on May 26, 2010.
She remains the youngest winner in American Idol history.
The Seattle audition is the one seen in the January 17, 2007, broadcast of American Idol, in which she earned a "gold ticket" and the right to appear in the Hollywood Round.
Sparks also appeared with Alice Cooper in his 2004 Christmas show and toured with Christian contemporary singer Michael W. In 2006, Sparks was one of six winners of the Phoenix Torrid search for the "Next Plus Size Model".
She was flown to California, where she was featured in Torrid ads and promotional pieces.
Its title single reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Sparks the only American Idol contestant to have her first five singles reach the top 20 in the United States. In 2009, Billboard magazine ranked her as the 91st Artist of the 2000s Decade.
Following the release of Battlefield, Sparks ventured into acting, pursuing television and Broadway.