Pop/rock vocalist Carly Smithson had already been through the major-label music ringer by the time she landed a coveted slot on the seventh season of American Idol. The Dublin native began performing in commercials and theater productions as a child, and she released her first indie disc (Carly's Christmas Album) at the age of ten. Then known as Carly Hennessy, she moved to America with her father as a 14 year-old. Hennessy's strong vocals won her a contract with MCA, and she made her major-label debut with the release of 2001's Ultimate High. MCA sank a reported $2 million into the album's promotion, but Ultimate High proved to be a commercial letdown, only selling several hundred copies during its first month of release. As a result, she was cut loose by MCA.
After taking a break from music, Smithson -- who married tattoo artist Todd Smithson during her hiatus -- auditioned for the fifth season of American Idol. She was unanimously accepted by the show's judges, but visa problems kept the singer from taking part in the competition. Smithson returned to the show two years later, eager to re-introduce herself to America, and her strong performances made her one of the season's top finalists. Smithson ultimately finished sixth. After doing the rounds on the talk show circuit and completing the annual American Idol tour, she began to work on a solo album. In 2009, however, it was announced that Smithson would abandon her solo career and team up with ex-Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody to form the rock band We Are the Fallen. We Are the Fallen signed with Universal Republic Records and began recording an album, Tear the World Down, which appeared in 2010.