Tiffany Evans, the winner of the Junior Vocalist title, says that just six months ago, she was living in a van, sometimes on the street, with her parents and four of her 10 siblings. Now, she's a rising star on "Star Search."
Tiffany was at the Tiffany Lounge at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City, when she was handed a mike. She sang her heart out, a waitress heard her and put her in touch with a vocal coach, who found an apartment for the family.
"She has little siblings, brothers and sisters, who are actually trying to follow in her footsteps," says her father, Ron Evans. "Everything that Tiffany does, they're doing the same. And it's giving a positive image with the family, and Tiffany is becoming well known and it's just that she's so media right. We're just expecting so much from her."
When she grows up, Tiffany says, she would like to be an obstetrician. "Hopefully, I think it might be fun," she says. But if her dreams come true, she'll be "acting and singing all around the world" first.
On "Star Search" Thursday night, Tiffany got the highest possible rating of 20 from the judges, plus an additional 18 points from the national audience via the Internet. She sang "I Am Changing" from the Broadway musical, "Dream Girls."
Comedian Jeff Garcia won 17 out of 20 points from the judges, with another 18 from the national audience via the Internet.
Garcia's story is also remarkable. He says he grew up in a neighborhood (La Puente in Southern California) where "people were doing things they shouldn't do," and he "got caught up in it."
Garcia, who took the "Red Eye" to New York to be on The Early Show, says he used comedy to avoid getting beat up, and as a road away from harmful influences.
In this age of political correctness, Garcia has managed to find a way to do racial humor, and not offend anyone.
"Black people, where you at? Yeah, I love black people. You start a riot, we finish it," was one of Garcia's jokes on "Star Search." His philosophy is to spread things around to every ethnic group.
"Well, you pretty much have to, if you don't want to get jumped, right?" Garcia says, making fun of co-anchor Harry Smith after Smith agreed he was not particularly interested in being jumped.
"I've never heard it put like that: I'm not interested in being jumped. 'Give me your money.' 'I'm not interested, at this particular time,'" Garcia jokes.
Garcia is almost 27, and has been doing stand-up since he was 15. Married, he insists that if he were to win the $100,000 grand prize, he would see only $10,000. "My wife would get $90,000," he jokes.
His goal is to earn enough money to work only when he wanted to and spend his other time doing things he enjoyed.
"You know what I'm saying? Like fly out and kick it with you," Garcia tells Smith.
"We could hang," Smith replies.
"We could hang. That's not bad. It's a stretch for you to say 'hang,'" Garcia jokes.