photo: Albert L. Ortega/ Getty ImagesKimberly Caldwell and David Cook may have briefly dated, and rumors of on-set "Idol" romances swirl every season. But Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young are without a doubt THE first couple of "American Idol." Although the 24-year-old Diana, who was Season 3's first runner-up, and 31-year-old Ace, who placed seventh in Season 5, only recently went public with their inter-season reality romance, the couple have actually been an item for more than two years, and their relationship is both personal and professional. Not only is Diana signed to Young Brothers Entertainment, the indie record label run by Ace with his brother Ryan, but she and Ace co-wrote her new country ballad, "Good Goodbye," for the character she plays on the CBS soap opera "The Young & The Restless," a "gum-smacking mob princess with a heart of gold" named Angelina Venziano.
"We live together, and we really work together," says Diana of her surprising romance with Ace. "We did Hair on Broadway, so we were the first Idols to do a Broadway show together, the first Idols to live together--and the first to write a country song for a soap opera star together!"
Yes, although Diana and Ace share an Idolicious bond that few people could comprehend ("I truly believe us having been through 'Idol' is one of many big reasons as to why we understand each other so well; unless you go through it, you don't get it," Diana says), it wasn't "Idol" that first brought these two together, but their joint stint on Broadway in 2010. "We met doing Hair. We had to play boyfriend and girlfriend, and we both had to strip down [naked] for one another. And I think when you have to do that within the first week of meeting somebody, you know you're going to have a special relationship after that!" Diana giggles. "Yes, we were checking each other out, I believe so!"
However, Ace and Diana didn't go "through to Hollywood" right away, so to speak; at first, their relationship was totally platonic. (Diana dismisses gossip that Ace--who ended his previous relationship shortly before joining the Hair cast--was otherwise involved when the two of them first started dating, insisting, "I'm not that kind of girl.") Says Diana: "We played with the idea [of dating] when we first met. We were friends, first and foremost, which I think is the best way to create a real relationship--and we are best friends now! We had both been through 'Idol,' which is such a unique and life-changing experience, and we just truly bonded. We became best friends, and then suddenly I'm coming out to L.A. to see my best friend and hang out, and then the next thing you know, one kiss starts it all! We are just so fortunate that we work really well together and we inspire each other."
Ace, who also collaborated on fellow Idol Chris Daughtry's hit "It's Not Over," co-penned all of the tracks on Diana's forthcoming EP (out in May), and it may surprise more casual fans (who missed Diana's stint on Season 1 of CMT's "Gone Country") that the EP created by the rocker and the former pop princess is distinctively twangy. "Yes, I am going country!" Diana laughs. "I grew up in the South, and I grew up singing country music my whole life. If anybody gets really in-depth into YouTube, they can see some really hilarious videos of me in, like, full-blown gold lamé and black fringe and a cowboy hat, singing 'Walkin' After Midnight'! When I did 'Idol,' it was a pop show then, and they didn't see country music as being even an option--and of course, the next season, Carrie Underwood proved everybody wrong. My album [after 'Idol'] wasn't really me; I did what I was told. Now I can make the music that is really me, which is a great hybrid of country with a little bit of pop."
As for future non-professional collaborations between Ace and Diana, it has to be asked: Is there a first "Idol" wedding in the works? Just imagine the live entertainment, and the cast of musical characters who could potential hop onstage at the reception! Diana chuckles, "That would be awesome, but I don't know about the wedding thing just yet, to be honest. But if we had a wedding, we would have one hell of a party!"
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