updated 07/10/2006 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 07/10/2006 AT 2:10 PM ET
Chris Daughtry, the American Idol fan favorite who placed fourth on the FOX talent hunt, has signed a record deal.
The North Carolina native, 26, has inked an agreement with RCA Records chief Clive Davis and Idol creator Simon Fuller’s label, 19 Recordings Unlimited, and is expected to release an album later this year, RCA announced Monday.
Two of Daughtry’s fellow Idol contestants – winner Taylor Hicks and runner-up Katharine McPhee – have already signed similar deals with 19 Recordings and Davis, who launched the careers of Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and many others.
According to a statement by RCA, Daughtry will form a band and “has already begun to work with A-list collaborators” to write and record new material.
The singer, whose raspy vocals can be heard on the American Idol: Season Five compilation CD (which features his popular cover of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”), was born in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., but grew up in Lasker, a town with a population of 103, according to the 2000 census.
Only hours after Daughtry’s surprising Idol ouster, the multi-platinum rock band Fuel offered him a job. Bass player Jeff Abercrombie and guitarist Carl Bell told TV’s Extra that Daughtry was invited to replace singer Brett Scallions, who quit in February.
While considering the offer, Daughtry, who is raising two children with wife Deanna, told PEOPLE of Fuel, “They’re good friends of mine, and right now I’m just thinking everything through and making sure that I make the right decision for me and my family. Those things take time.”
But Daughtry eventually declined the invitation, telling the Charlotte Observer, “I’m going to be doing my own thing.”