Ryan Starr

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ryan Starr
Birth nameTiffany Montgomery
Born (1982-11-21) November 21, 1982 (age 40)
Los Angeles, California
GenresAlternative rock
Years active2002–present
LabelsRCA Records (2002–2004)
Nightbird Records

Tiffany Montgomery[1] (born November 21, 1982), known professionally as Ryan Starr, is a singer who finished seventh on the first season of American Idol. She went on to release a successful single on iTunes and participated in a handful of other television programs, modeling campaigns, and worldwide music tours.

Early life[edit]

Ryan Starr was born Tiffany Montgomery in the Sunland neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, a place where she once described as a "middle of nowhere town, up in the hills - like, horse country."[2] Her elementary, middle, and high schools were all about "a block from one another" in her words,[2] and growing up, Starr considered herself to be "a small-town tomboy".[3] She has three sisters.[4][5] On her mother's side, she is Peruvian and Bolivian.[6][7] She also has French and Irish ancestry.[8]

Although Starr was named Homecoming Queen,[9] she reminisced in a 2017 blog post that she was "dorky" and "definitely not one of the popular kids" for most of her time in school.[10] She graduated from Verdugo Hills High School in 2000,[9] where she ran track.[10] Before attempting a music career, she worked as a waitress, lifeguard, swim team coach, and at a clothing store.[2]

Around the age of seven, Starr began learning how to sing.[2][5] Her family was unable to afford formal vocal training, so as a child, Starr developed her voice by singing along to Disney films.[11] Drawn to jazz and blues artists from a young age, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Janis Joplin, and Otis Redding were among Starr's first musical influences.[5][12] As Starr got older, she found inspiration in rock musicians, such as Pat Benatar, Chris Cornell, Steve Perry, and Steven Tyler.[5]


American Idol[edit]

After graduating from high school, Starr went on frequent bus excursions into Hollywood from her nearby hometown, and on one of these, she met a girl who suggested that the two of them audition for American Idol's first season together.[2] Starr's performance of "Lean on Me" (by Bill Withers) was the first successful audition ever shown on the series.[13] In his 2003 autobiography, I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But..., Simon Cowell wrote that Starr was "cripplingly shy" at the audition, but that Paula Abdul "saw some potential for stardom in her, and decided to mentor her."[14]

Starr, who auditioned as Tiffany Montgomery,[15] adopted her stage name by Hollywood Week.[16] Placed into Group 1 for the Top 30 semi-finals, her song choice for that round of an old jazz standard, "The Frim-Fram Sauce", puzzled Cowell and Randy Jackson,[17] although the following night Cowell deemed Starr "a dark horse" and predicted that she could excel in the competition with better singing material.[18] After she was voted through to the Top 10,[18][19] Starr opened the first round of the finals, singing "If You Really Love Me" by Stevie Wonder; this marked the first live performance in the history of American Idol.[20] Starr was well-received by the judges for that performance but was voted off the series two weeks later in seventh place.[20][21]

The second of Starr's live performances, "You Really Got Me" by The Kinks, was panned by the judges and resulted in a Bottom 2 placement for that week.[22] While Starr's final performance of the competition, "Last Dance" by Donna Summer, was praised by the judges as an improvement over the previous week, it prompted Cowell to reflect on Starr's disparate song choices throughout the competition and express confusion over what kind of artist Starr wanted to be.[23] The judges felt that Starr struggled with aspects of her performances throughout every round of the finals but communicated a shared belief in Starr's potential.[20][22][23] Upon Starr's elimination from the competition, Cowell gave Starr an offer to call him anytime for help with pursuing a music career.[21]


Week Theme Song Original artist Result
Auditions Contestant's Choice "Lean on Me"
Bill Withers
Alicia Keys
Hollywood Contestant's Choice "Ain't No Sunshine" Bill Withers Advanced
Semi-Final Group 1 Free Choice "The Frim-Fram Sauce" Nat King Cole Advanced
Top 10 Motown "If You Really Love Me" Stevie Wonder Safe
Top 8 1960s "You Really Got Me" The Kinks Bottom 2
Top 7 1970s "Last Dance" Donna Summer Eliminated
Season finale "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" Nancy Sinatra

Post-American Idol music career[edit]

Starr blamed her stalled music career on a two-year restrictive recording contract with RCA. Under this contract, she refused to record an album claiming producers wanted to turn her into an Avril Lavigne type singer. After an intense three year legal battle she was released from contract in 2005.[24]

Upon release from her contract, Starr went on to host "TRL" on "VH1". Starr then released an iTunes Exclusive Single, "My Religion." The song went all the way to number one on the US Billboard Hot Digital Songs Chart, and was noted in the 2005 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records to have sold the most exclusive single downloads in iTunes's history. They also went on to detail the fact that My Religion was slated to be released to stores in early 2006, however, iTunes refused to release Ryan Starr's single from contract.[24] One of the highest selling exclusive singles ever, it sold an estimated 360,000 units worldwide according to MTV and USA Today.[24]

In an interview given to the Today Show in early 2007, Starr revealed that iTunes had expressed interest in Starr releasing another exclusive single to follow up the immense success of "My Religion." Starr claimed that she was reluctant to accept as she wished to release a full album, but hinted she had accepted the very lucrative offer put forth by iTunes. Rumors began to circulate that 'Stranded' would be the next exclusive single when images of a single cover were released on her MySpace.[25]

Television appearances[edit]

Year Title Role Other notes
2002 American Idol 7th place finalist Went on a nationwide, 32-city tour with all the American Idol finalists.
2002, 2004 Entertainment Tonight Guest Star
2002–2005 Access Hollywood Starr, along with fellow idol R. J. Helton, did numerous interviews with Access Hollywood.
2002–2006 Fox News Guest Star
2003 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Sophia Renatta Starr appeared in an episode where she was killed in a diving accident, which looked like murder.
What I Like About You Pam Wayne
Good Day Live Guest Star
Live with Regis and Kelly Guest Star Sang 'Lean on Me.'
2003, 2005 Total Request Live Guest Star Interviewed.
2004 The Surreal Life Housemate
VH1 Big in 04 Star Starr presented an award along with Flavor Flav.
On Air with Ryan Seacrest Guest Star Starr was interviewed by Ryan Seacrest, host of American Idol.
The Howard Stern Show Guest Star
Good Morning America Guest Star
The View Guest Star
2005 Battle of the Network Reality Stars Star
A Rockin' Las Vegas New-Year with Ryan Starr Host
2005 Billboard Music Awards Red carpet
Extra Guest Star
All Star Reality Reunion Interviewed
2006 Lingerie Bowl Star Starr was a sideline reporter.
The Tyra Banks Show Guest Star
2007 The Dr. Keith Ablow Show Interviewed


Year Title Role Other notes
2004 Ring of Darkness Stacy Lead role
2006 Vendetta Brigitte Douglas


Year Title Role Other notes
2003 Old Navy Herself With several other Idols.
2004 Fuse Herself Promoting a new rock line-up.
2006 NASCAR Herself Promoting her July 15 NASCAR Runway Performance.



Year Track Album
2004 "My Religion" Non-album single

Compilation appearances[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Details
2002 American Idol: Greatest Moments 4 Credited on the following tracks:
2008 Curtain Call: New Songs from Past American Idol Finalists Credited on the following tracks:
  • "My Religion"
  • "Broken"
  • "Blue"

As featured artist[edit]

Year Track Album
2010 "Chemically"
(Sander Kleinenberg featuring Ryan Starr)[26]
"Crazy for You"
(Paolo Mojo featuring Ryan Starr)
Non-album single

Other songs[edit]

Year Track Details
Unknown "Love Gone Bad" Released through MySpace
"Eyes of a Child"


  1. ^ "YouTube - "Ryan Starr's Audition" (American Idol)". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ryan Starr. Interview with Ryan Starr (video). TVGuide.com. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Ryan Starr (November 4, 2017). "How to Know When You Need Time Alone - "Time for Alone Time"". She Is Ryan. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  4. ^ Ryan Starr. "FAQ - About Ryan". RyanStarr.us. Archived from the original on September 3, 2004.
  5. ^ a b c d Ryan Starr. "Ryan Starr - Biography". RyanStarr.us. Archived from the original on March 29, 2010.
  6. ^ Ryan Starr. "About - She Is Ryan - by Ryan Starr". She Is Ryan. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  7. ^ Ryan Starr (October 25, 2003). "Ryan's Newsletter 2, Her words, Her thoughts!". RyanStarr.us. Archived from the original on October 10, 2004.
  8. ^ Ryan Starr (September 20, 2004). "Ryan's Newsletter 3, She's Baaaaaack!!!". RyanStarr.us. Archived from the original on September 24, 2004.
  9. ^ a b Jerry Tao (October 7, 2002). "News Brief - Tiffany Montgomery a.k.a. Ryan Starr". Verdugo Hills High School. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Ryan Starr (November 7, 2017). "How to Build a Great Circle of Friends - Quality of Friends Over a Quantity of Friends". She Is Ryan. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Ryan Starr (July 31, 2018). "Why Visiting Disney World Is a Must Do - Getting Into the Spirit". She Is Ryan. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  12. ^ Ryan Starr (October 12, 2018). "Why Age Really Isn't Anything but a Number". She Is Ryan. Retrieved April 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "Auditions". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 1. June 11, 2002. Fox.
  14. ^ Cowell, Simon (2003). I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But... New York City: Broadway Books. ISBN 9780767917414.
  15. ^ Caryn James (September 1, 2002). "On 'Idol,' the only losers are the audience's ears". The New York Times. Retrieved April 29, 2020.  – via Infotrac Newsstand (subscription required)
  16. ^ "Hollywood Week". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 2. June 12, 2002. Fox.
  17. ^ "Top 30: Group 1". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 3. June 18, 2002. Fox.
  18. ^ a b "Top 30: Group 1 results". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 4. June 19, 2002. Fox.
  19. ^ Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff (June 21, 2002). "MUTT ON DISABLED LIST ADOPTS CARAY - Norcross' singing 'Idol'". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 29, 2020.  – via Infotrac Newsstand (subscription required)
  20. ^ a b c "Top 10 Perform". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 10. July 16, 2002. Fox.
  21. ^ a b "Top 7 Results". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 15. July 31, 2002. Fox.
  22. ^ a b "Top 8 Finalists". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 12. July 23, 2002. Fox.
  23. ^ a b "Top 7 Finalists". American Idol. Season 1. Episode 14. July 30, 2002. Fox.
  24. ^ a b c 'American Idol' Throwback: Where Are They Now? - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News
  25. ^ "MySpace.com - ryan starr's official site. - SANTA MONICA, California - Rock / Alternative / Classic Rock - www.myspace.com/ryanstarrofficialpage".
  26. ^ Kevin Wierzbicki (June 2011). "MUSICREPORT". Campus Circle Newspaper. Vol. 21, no. 22. p. 17. Retrieved April 10, 2020.

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