Justin Guarini's smooth and soulful vocal styling gave him the edge to make it all the way to the finals during the first season of "American Idol" (Fox, 2002-16) and helped him carve out a successful career on Broadway. He was born Justin Eldrin Bell on Oct. 28, 1978 in Columbus, GA to Kathy Guarini, a former CNN anchor, and Eldrin Bell, a former Atlanta police chief. The future "Idol" star began singing at a young age; at four, he became a member of the Atlanta Boys Choir, which normally did not accept children under six. Growing up, he often performed for his large, blended family, which included 19 brothers and sisters. As a senior in high school, Guarini formed an a cappella group before graduation called The Midnight Voices to impress girls, but the group ended up recording an album and placing second at a regional music competition. Determined to elevate his talent, Guarini attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA and the School for Film & Television in New York City. After his theater training, he received an offer to join the renowned master class program in the award-winning Broadway musical "The Lion King" (1997); however, he declined the role when he earned a spot as a finalist on the first season of "American Idol" in 2002.