NEW YORK (AP) He didn't become the ''American Idol.'' He wasn't even the runner-up. But R.J. Helton still managed to get a record deal.
Helton, who made it to the top five last season in the Fox TV singing competition, has signed a deal to make a gospel album for Kirk Franklin's Gospocentric label.
''Idol'' winner Kelly Clarkson saw her first album, ''Thankful,'' debut at No. 1 last month. Runner-up Justin Guarini is one of several singers from the show who also have discs coming out.
''Kelly and I are very close friends, and she has been totally supportive of my career,'' Helton said Tuesday.
''I am really excited that I am getting a chance to make the kind of record I have always wanted to make.''
Since last year's finale, the 21-year-old from Atlanta has performed with the other finalists on the ''American Idol'' tour and has appeared in Old Navy television ads.
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