Heavy Medal

For her next trick, Carly Patterson attempts to trade in somersaults for singing

Along with graduating from Plano's Spring Creek Academy, Carly's catching up on the finer points of adolescence. Such as eating pizza. And sleeping past sunrise.

"I watched [younger sister] Jordan sleep in all those years," Carly says. "I was sooo jealous."

Pluto somehow lost its badge as a planet, so anything's possible. Even a one-trick pony tail that America devoured as if a continental breakfast--satisfying yet forgettable--maturing into a two-sport superstar shaping gold medals into gold records.

So...what's different about Carly Patterson?
So...what's different about Carly Patterson?

"She's not there yet," says Natalie, who serves as manager, publicist and best friend, "but I can see her becoming just as dedicated to singing as she was gymnastics."

On Duets she'll sing with Smokey Robinson and Lee Ann Womack, compete against Lucy Lawless and Cheech Marin and be judged by Little Richard and Marie Osmond, all for the chance at $100,000 and a recording contract. Just as Cowell called, Carly was enrolling at Collin County Community College in pursuit of becoming a dental hygienist.

But for now, the American idol is fixated on becoming an American Idol.

"People will see I'm serious about singing," says Carly, whose boundless energy allows her to endure the hour interview without a Starbucks signature delicacy. "It's no joke or publicity stunt. I think I can really sing, and I'm gonna go for it."

FOUND: America's Next Pop Star. 18 years old. A mature, sultry singer. Last seen in Allen, Texas, with stars in her eyes.

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