RJ Helton was born on May 17, 1981 in Pasadena, Texas. His original surname was de Jesus Rivas, but it changed when he was adopted by Richard Jason Helton. RJ was still young when his family moved to Cumming, Georgia. It was there that he studied music and dance and at the age of 19, was recruited by Dryden Entertainment. He made two demo CDs with the record company and in 2002 auditioned for the first season of American Idol. He names Paula and Randy as his favorite judges, but feels that Simon is too harsh and wrong for overly criticizing contestants. Aside from becoming a great singer, RJ also wants to become a much better snow skier.
When RJ auditioned for season 1 of American Idol, he was able to make it all the way to the semifinals, where he sang the Jackson 5 ballad, "I'll Be There." He didn't get enough votes to advance to the next round, but by a stroke of luck, was chosen as one of the five wild card contestants for the Top 10. During Motown week, RJ sang, "I Can't Help Myself" by The Four Tops and in the two next weeks, followed it with his own renditions of "Under the Boardwalk" and "Superstition." However, it was his performance during Big Band Week that caused him to fall into the bottom three, and come the following week, was finally voted off the show.
Since appearing in season 1 of American Idol, RJ has gone on to record for Kirk Franklin's GospoCentric Records and in 2004, released his album entitled Real Life. The album was on the Top 20 of the Billboard Christian charts. In 2006, RJ went on an interview with Larry Flick of OutQ in the Morning and it was in this show where he revealed that he is a homosexual.