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This September, Salt Lake City resident Megan Joy will finally step into the studio to lay down tracks for her first record.

It's been a long two years since the 26-year-old Taylorsville High graduate finished a stint on the "American Idols Live!" tour, her reward for placing in the top 10 of the eighth season of "American Idol."

But with a new husband, a renewed focus and 367 of her closest friends, Joy is determined to forge a career her own way. She knows it might not reach the stratosphere like that of former "American Idol" contestants Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood, but hopes music will enable her to provide for her son for the rest of his life.

"I wanted to re-instill in her to remember who she is," said Quinn Allman, Megan Joy's husband as of Aug. 21 and the guitarist for Orem rock band The Used. "Stay who you are," he repeatedly reminds her. "It's your vision."

The reason it has taken so long for Joy to record an EP is that she spent much of 2010 and 2011 shopping two dozen self-penned songs to different record labels. Each label wanted to mold her into someone she didn't want to be. "If they were to have signed me, I would have lost control," she said.

Control is vital to Joy, she realized. Her mother, Jill T. Moser, teases her daughter that her first words were "I can do it myself."

Over his career, Allman has developed connections in the industry that will help Joy. But even though The Used has sold more than 3 million records, neither Joy nor Allman had the money to get Joy's project off the ground.

There's a misconception, Joy said, that because her husband is a "rock star" he has oodles of money. But that isn't the case in a day and age when record sales are down and artists receive very little profit from those sales.

This year, a friend told Joy about Kickstarter.com, a website that allows people to raise money for projects through a pledge system. The singer, who now sports darker and shorter hair than in her "Idol" days, decided to give it a shot.

She had recorded demos of her songs, but estimated it would cost $15,000 to record a professional-sounding EP. Joy would need to hire musicians to re-record seven of her original songs, plus rent studio space and hire a producer to mix and master the recordings. With the rest of the money, she would spend it on marketing, artwork and a photo shoot.

When Joy, who has more than 18,000 followers on Twitter, sought pledges, she didn't expect much. Who would remember her?

But to her surprise, as of Aug. 23, 367 backers have pledged $17,356 — backers who put their own money down just so one day they could listen to a Megan Joy record.

With those pledges, Joy expects to be in a studio in September re-recording seven of her songs for a self-titled EP, which she hopes will be ready to release this fall.

It was clear that Joy engendered some good will from her time on "American Idol," an experience that she has mixed feelings about. She auditioned for the show without having had any vocal training beyond singing in her high-school choir.

She was one of the most idiosyncratic finalists the show had ever had — a new mother from Utah with tattoos covering her right arm; when she sang, her body moved in what was dubbed a "twisty dance."

It didn't hurt, especially from judge Simon Cowell's perspective, that she was a photogenic blonde. Even more, she had a husky, bluesy, smoky voice that differentiated her from the sopranos and tenors of the other contestants.

"It still feels like a dream," she said. "It was the most wonderful-slash-horrible part of my life. It was hard on my soul. I was learning how to control my mind. I had to turn off my mind and not compare myself to the others who had been singing for a while."

At the same time, Joy was going through a divorce and a custody battle for Ryder, who is now 4 ½ years old. The tour was tough on Joy, who wasn't able to see her son much.

"Her intention was never to be famous or sign with a record label," Moser said. "It was to be a good mother, and if she can provide for him by singing, all the better."

Some of the songs she plans on re-recording focus on juggling careers while being a mother. In "Double Life," she sings:

It's a double life I'm leading

It's a candle I've been burning at both ends to get back home again to you

It's a double life I'm leading

It's a miracle I'm breathing

Can't get home fast enough

It's me you need, it's you I love

Listening to Joy's demos, it's apparent what genre she aspires to fit into, as well as the thematic bond that ties the songs together. "I want everything to come off as a loving, earthy, urban mommy mobster," Joy said with a laugh. As for the music, it's breezy pop, influenced by Swedish electronic band Little Dragon as well as Joy's favorite artist, Björk. "It's not traditional pop," Joy said. Her husband added: "It's a horse of a different color."

If there's anticipation and curiosity building to hear the former "Idol's" recordings, there's at least one fan who isn't particularly interested, and that's Ryder.

His father, stepfather and mother are all musicians, and the little boy hears music all around the house. "It embarrasses Ryder when I sing," Joy said. "I think he just wants silence."

Perhaps what he doesn't understand is that she's doing it for his own good.

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Support local music

I If you're a fan of Megan Joy's individual style, you can still contribute to the Salt Lake City singer's first EP before Aug. 31. Visit kck.st/pK5VeD.

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