Ten years ago, Jordin Sparks captured the hearts and imagination of the public when she was crowned the winner on “American Idol.” She was 17, the youngest person to ever earn the title. She also was the first — and only — winner to come from Arizona.

Looking back at that time of her life is “actually this really weird type of feeling,” says Sparks, calling from her home in Los Angeles. “It does feel like it was ages ago, but at the same time I feel like it was yesterday. Time flies when you’re having fun, so I must be having fun.”

Sparks is someone whose life really flipped around in an instant. Born in Phoenix and raised in Glendale, she always was gifted. She performed at Valley Youth Theatre, won talent competitions and sang the national anthem at sporting events around the Valley. Still, when she became old enough to audition for “American Idol,” that got her excited. 

“I was such a huge fan of ‘Idol’ that I was more excited to audition for that than to get my driver’s license,” she says with a giggle. “That’s how a big a fan I was.”

Instant fame

She won a Channel 10 competition called “Arizona Idol.” As part of the prize, she essentially got to jump the line at an “American Idol” audition. She went to Seattle, made the cut, and never looked back.

She was a perfect “American Idol” contestant. Because she has a gorgeous voice that suits many musical styles — her initial goal was to be a country singer — she was tailor-made for the theme weeks that were a part of the show. Then and now, she is ebullient, outgoing, naturally warm and has the kind of big smile that makes you smile back. Some pundits compared her to a Disney princess at the time, which…