JESSICA PHILLIPS came into the latest round of American Idol auditions as just one of a huge number of hopefuls as the series touched down in Portland at the audition stage for the first time in 11 season-old show's history. However she soon came out right ahead of the pack after a back story which ran deeper than the usual reminiscing about singing into hairbrushes as a child. Phillips told the program how her life changed irreversibly on Easter Sunday last year when her boyfriend of five years suffered a stroke when out celebrating a friend's birthday - not recognising his other half upon waking up.

Taking up the story, Phillips explained "He was in hospital for a month and a half. When he did wake up he didn't know who I was. The entire relationship itself has changed. Now I'm really a caretaker and there's a different type of love I feel now and a different type of responsibility I have to him and life in general." A lot is made of the exaggerated nature of some of the 'American Idol' contestants back stories, but its worth remembering that for a lot of hopefuls the chance to gain any modicum of profile is a chance to escape, or to find some positivity in a life that's daily toil is tougher than most. That certainly seemed the case for Phillips who said "Every day is just a struggle but it's also a blessing because we still have life and we still have another chance to keep going. This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. I'm still going through it and I just pray every day I'll be able to continue."

Thankfully for her, she also possessed a great singing voice, choosing to sing 'Again' by Faith Evans and gaining a unanimous decision by the judges to be put through to the next stage, something which probably means more to her than most.