Chicago and the suburbs have a strong track record on the popular singing-competition show "American Idol."
A few examples: Naperville resident Gina Glocksen placed ninth during the show's 6th season in 2007; Wheeling native Haley Reinhart was third in 2011; and of course, Mount Prospect native Lee DeWyze captured the "Idol" crown in 2010.
That history is part of the reason the show has returned to Chicago to look for new local stars, "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest said Wednesday.
"It's a great city to be in, and the show has had lots of success here," he said.
Seacrest and the newly minted panel of judges -- "Idol" vet Randy Jackson will be joined by newcomers Mariah Carey, Keith Urban and Nicki Minaj -- were in town Tuesday and Wednesday to evaluate contestants for the show's upcoming 12th season, which will premiere in January on Fox.
This week's contestants were those who participated in open auditions at the United Center in July and were asked to come back.
"We saw exceptional talent," said Minaj, a hip-hop artist known for her animated rapping technique and colorful wardrobe. "Chicago has brought its A-game."
Country superstar Urban and pop diva Carey both said they've been moved to tears by some local contestants.
"The stories we've heard have been beyond belief," Carey said.
The judges will evaluate contestants in several other cities -- Charlotte, San Antonio and Los Angeles among them -- between now and the show's January premiere.
Jackson, the sole remaining judge from the show's inaugural season, said he wouldn't be surprised to see Chicago-area folks end up near the top in 2013.
"You look at Jennifer Hudson, R. Kelly -- there's so much talent here," he said.
To follow "American Idol" during the lead-up to the season premiere, go to americanidol.com.