- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2009

“Never underestimate the power of prayer,” advises Season 6 “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks, who said she looked to the heavens to help heal her strained vocal chords when she landed in the District after a trip from London this past weekend.

Evidently, her prayers were answered. With the help of a little hot tea, the teenage singing sensation belted out such hit tunes as “Tattoo” and “One Step at a Time” — both from her best-selling eponymous LP — at the Cinderella Ball, held Saturday evening at the historic Willard InterContinental Hotel. The fourth annual soiree is a special prom night for teenagers with disabilities and life-threatening illnesses. The ball is sponsored by the House Inc., a nonprofit Virginia-based after-school program. The food and ballroom were donated by the Willard.

Miss Sparks sang her heart out, posed for pictures and signed autographs for the 400 guests — many of whom were in wheelchairs — as their grateful family members looked on, some with tears in their eyes.

“It’s the hair and makeup. I don’t normally look this pretty,” the Grammy and American Music Awards nominee told the fans gathered around the small stage in the Willard ballroom.

Before her performance, Miss Sparks (the daughter of former NFL player Phillippi Sparks and his wife, Jodi) told Green and Glover that her own prom night was a little unusual. Her date was her younger brother, PJ (Phillippi Sparks Jr.), but that didn’t stop her from having a good time. She cited the experience as an example to help bolster the confidence of youngsters who may feel left out of the regular high school prom experience because of their physical and mental challenges.

The Phoenix native said she also was proud of the fact that she voted for the first time last fall — and although she confidently classified herself as an “independent,” was happy to see one of her state’s senators John McCain, Arizona Republican, on the ballot.

In January, Miss Sparks performed at the inaugural Commander-in-Chief Ball at the National Building Museum, and tells us she’ll be making another stop in the District as the opening act for the Jonas Brothers’ World Tour 2009 when the trio performs at Verizon Center on July 13.

Miss Sparks also noted that President Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia are Jonas Brothers fans and said, “I hope they come!”

In addition to touring, putting smiles on children’s faces and premiering her new album “Battlefield” set for release July 21, Miss Sparks also hopes to revisit the world of fashion. Last year, she collaborated with Wet Seal — a California-based firm that specializes in contemporary fashions and accessories — on an apparel line for the holidays.

“I want to dabble in fashion for some time,” Miss Sparks said.

While we’re glad that Miss Sparks will continue to “dabble” in fashion, we hope that she continues her recording career and turning out such singles as her 2008 hit “Tattoo.” On Saturday, she gamely sang the song to the lady spies — thereby making their Saturday evening complete.

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover, e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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