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'American Idol's' Casey James to sign with Sony Nashville

August 9, 2010 |  2:12 pm

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“American Idol’s” Casey James is about to sign with Sony Nashville, Pop & Hiss has learned. The Season 9 heartthrob, who finished third behind winner Lee DeWyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox (and was often positioned as cougar bait, thanks to his shirtless audition in Denver last summer encouraged by judge Kara DioGuardi), joins “Idol” alums Carrie Underwood and Danny Gokey on its roster, though “no label designation” has been made yet, says a Sony insider. The news comes a week after "American Idol" signed a distribution deal with Universal Music Group for future seasons of the series.

James first met with Sony Nashville back in June when he made a one-day trip to the Tennessee city during a brief post-"Idol" break. A month later, Sony Nashville's chairman and chief executive, Gary Overton, flew to New York for the “American Idol Live! Tour.” James, who performs four songs on the two-month trek (which hits L.A.’s Staples Center on Friday), including the Black Keys’ “I Got Mine,” clearly impressed the executive, who had also watched his weekly performances on "Idol." (It should be noted that Overton recently stepped in for Sony Music Nashville Chairman Joe Galante, who in April announced his departure after 40 years at the company.)

 The label has seen its share of "Idol" successes, including albums by Underwood, whose debut, “Some Hearts,” just passed the 7 million sales mark, Kellie Pickler and Gokey.  As Season 9 "Idol"  viewers undoubtedly know, James is a die-hard blues fan, though it’s unclear how much of that influence will make it onto his debut album, whether he’ll record it in Nashville (or whether Jack White is available).

-- Shirley Halperin

Photo: Casey James. Credit: Courtesy 'American Idol' / Fox

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