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“He’s more like the indie, alternative rock kinda guy, and I’m more urban R&B pop. … It’s just the number of our fans,” she said, adding that she expected to be the runner-up.

“In the moment, I told him, ‘You’re gonna win this.’ I was smiling at him the whole time. I was ready to just give him a big hug, and that’s what I did when they announced it.”

Ms. Sparks, 22, was among the guest stars who helped fill out the two-hour finale show. Rihanna, Neil Diamond, Reba McEntire, Chaka Khan and John Fogerty also performed. “American Idol” judges Steven Tyler, with his band Aerosmith, and Jennifer Lopez performed as well, but it was Miss Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday who stood out with a powerhouse duet on “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Besides music, there was a marriage proposal for the season 11 finale: Former contestants Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo got engaged on stage.

Country Music Association awards show set for Nov. 1

The Country Music Association’s 46th annual awards show is scheduled for Nov. 1. The three-hour show will move to Thursday this year after a run of Wednesday nights. It will be broadcast live on ABC from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

More than 16 million viewers tuned in to the CMAs last year to watch Taylor Swift win her second entertainer of the year award.

The eligibility period for the CMA Awards closes June 30 and nominees will be announced in late summer.

The association also announced “CMA Country Christmas” will return for a third year with taping scheduled for Nov. 3. The show, which draws many of country’s top stars, also will run on ABC during the holiday season.

Compiled from Web and wire reports