Erica Rhodes, erica rhodes barneygirl on american idol

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The contestant who turned the most heads tonight? Dallas auditioner Erica Rhodes, who was a proud "Barney & Friends" kid in her youth but took her turn in front of the judges wearing a dominatrix get-up and working a dino whip to accompany her gutsy rendition of En Vogue's "Free Your Mind."

Erica Rhodes: 'Barney' kid with a whip-smart strategy

In a sea of gimmicks, it was a smart move and, with the talent to back it up, we anticipate Erica will go far.

Amazingly, the 1999 "Barney" gig was not just Erica's big break, it was her only one. At least until now. According to her IMDB resume, other than a glorified extra role in the 2009 indie film "Going Home," Erica's showbiz experience is in the dance world. She trained at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy and was a member of the now defunct Dallas Desperados. She also studied broadcast journalism at Dallas' Southern Methodist University, so there's plenty to fall back on, not that Erica will need to.

-- Shirley Halperin

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Photo: Erica Danielle Rhodes' official head shot. Credit: