Suzie McNeilVedi in iTunes
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Canadian-born Suzie McNeil had already enjoyed a diverse and successful career as a musician before she rose to fame in North America as a contestant on the musical reality show Rock Star: INXS, in which she was one of 15 vocalists competing for the chance to become the new lead singer for veteran Australian pop/rock band INXS. McNeil was born in 1976 in Mississauga, Ontario, to a musically inclined family, and began singing as a child with her sister and her mom. McNeil was blessed with a voice that was suited to a wide variety of material, and she put her instrument to good use, supporting herself recording commercial jingles and working as a backup singer while sharing stages with a number of leading Canadian musicians, including Garth Hudson, Jeff Healey, Ronnie Hawkins, and Alan Frew of Glass Tiger. NcNeil also sang with several original groups, including Fourstar and Rounder, though she faced some of her biggest audiences singing with a pair of tribute bands — AbbaMania, in which she handled the vocal parts originated by Agnetha Faltskog, and Sweetleaf, a Black Sabbath cover act where she wailed like Ozzy Osbourne. In 2005, McNeil, eager to launch her career outside Canada, relocated to Los Angeles for the Rock Star: INXS auditions; McNeil became an audience favorite and made it into the competition's Final Four, but ultimately lost out to J.D. Fortune. However, McNeil did made a guest appearance on the album INXS subsequently recorded with Fortune, Switch, and her exposure on the show led to a tour as a backup singer for Pink and a vocal cameo on Clay Aiken's album A Thousand Different Ways, dueting with the American Idol star on the Foreigner chestnut "I Want to Know What Love Is." In the spring of 2007, McNeil released her first solo album, Broken and Beautiful, which appeared in stores as she was appearing in the Toronto production of We Will Rock You, a musical adapted from the songs of the legendary British rock group Queen.