MANILA, Philippines – Before becoming an “American Idol” finalist, Filipino-Mexican-American Jessica Sanchez already made jaws drop on American television as an 11-year-old singer.
Sanchez proved irresistible for judges of “America’s Got Talent” during its first season in 2006. She was chosen to return as a wild card contestant after being initially eliminated.
Sanchez was only 10 years old when she passed her first audition for a spot in the US version of the international “Got Talent” franchise. After failing to make it to the semi-finals, Sanchez got a belated call-back as judge Brandy Norwood’s wild-card-round bet.
Having just turned 11 a day before her wild card performance, Sanchez wowed the “Got Talent” panelists, which included David Hasselhoff and Piers Morgan. She got a standing ovation with her rendition of “I Surrender."
Calling Sanchez’s performance “fantastic,” Hasselhoff celebrated the comeback by exclaiming “Mabuhay,” a Filipino word that means “long live.”
Norwood, to whom Sanchez owed her wild card opportunity, expressed her confidence in the Fil-Am belter.
“I’m so glad I brought you back. You have really shown me that singing is the best thing ever,” she said. “You’re going to be huge, I promise.”
The blunt judge Morgan said he had initially thought Sanchez was “flat as a pancake,” but added he saw “confidence and star quality” in her that other competing acts didn’t have.
Sanchez, however, did not garner enough viewers’ votes to move on to the finals. Of the ten acts picked for the wild card round, only two secured a spot in the top 10.
Six years later, Sanchez would fulfill Norwood’s prediction of the Fil-Am star “going huge,” having just secured a spot in the top 7 of reality singing contest “American Idol.”
Sanchez continues to impress judges and audience alike with her weekly performances, and many of her supporters in the Philippines and north America hope she will make it all the way to the contest’s final showdown.