Makes sense, too: she's no newcomer to the music business.
Thornton was still in her teens when "Lately," a single she cut while a member of the R&B trio Divine, peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1998.
A second single, a cover of George Michael's "One More Try" made it to No. 29 a year later. The group toured internationally, supporting 'N Sync and Britney Spears, Thornton said.
Her dreams of pop stardom fizzled after her label went bankrupt, but Kia never stopped singing, finding an outlet in the choir at Englewood's Community Baptist Church.
Thornton's mother, Michelle Harrison, said the family was parked in front of the television for Wednesday night's American Idol broadcast.
"I'm just happy my daughter made it that far," Harrison said. "I'm very, very happy. I'm proud of my daughter. People are calling. Believe me, the phone is ringing."