MANILA -- Six years after she became a worldwide sensation when she emerged first runner-up in “American Idol” Season 11, Jessica Sanchez is now strongly affirming her fan base in the Philippines.
Last Saturday, she staged a successful major concert at The Theater at Solaire. It was no longer surprising that Sanchez was patronized by both young and adult fans in the country.
She sauntered onstage and lost no time in opening the concert with her original single, “Tonight,” penned by Ne-Yo and recorded also with the latter.
Sanchez also showed how much her style has changed with her recent release, “Millionaire.”
“This is a very crazy journey for me,” Sanchez excitedly told her full-house audience that night. “I started in ‘American Idol’ when I was only 16. The experiences I’ve been through my whole life have been surreal for me. It was such a huge blessing.”
Though it was her nth time to visit the Philippines and perform here, the 23-year-old Sanchez has always been warmly received every time and she cannot be any happier.
Many of the stratospheric songs she rendered with her crystal-clear voice throughout the Solaire show were pieces she also did on “American Idol,” like “Proud Mary” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which she sang on Queen night on “American Idol,” six years before the film.
“Amazing movie,” Sanchez said of the Freddie Mercury biopic , which she watched during her free time in Manila.
Another memorable piece was Sanchez’s rendition of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.” She recalled that the band’s vocalist and “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler commended her for the soothing effortless quality of her voice, after she sang the piece in the competition.
“Steven came up to me when the cameras were off and he said, ‘You’re gonna do amazing things’,” Sanchez shared.
Her special guest that evening was Martin Nievera, who came in wearing long, red tresses, apparently to match Sanchez who colored her hair red.
“Tonight, the ‘American Idol’ meets the American Igorot,” a veritable comic Nievera delighted the crowd.
“The seats here (at The Theater at Solaire) used to be blue, but tonight, they changed it to red because of your hair color,” he laughingly chastised Sanchez before they did a duet of Nievera’s hit, “Forever.”
“I was asked to entertain the parents of Jessica’s fans,” Nievera teased. “Where were you when these songs were released?”
He subsequently launched into a familiar medley of his biggest hits and capped his performance with his staple Broadway medley.
When Sanchez returned onstage, she delighted her audience anew with two other tunes she sang on “American Idol” – Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’” and her hair-raising version of Jazmine Sullivan’s “Stuttering.”
The second song was rather a memorable piece for Sanchez, since she got the lowest number of votes in the competition the week she sang “Stuttering,” but merited the judges’ one-time “save.” To date, Sanchez remains the only female “American Idol” contestant who was spared from elimination.
Back in 2013, Sanchez proudly learned her first Tagalog song, “Ikaw,” from her grandmother, Virgie, whom she acknowledged in the audience that night.
To end her concert, Sanchez belted out a Whitney Houston medley – “I Have Nothing” and “I Will Always Love You.”
The Third Avenue Band, with Adonis Tabanda as musical director, backed up Sanchez. Stage director was Paolo Valenciano.
She returned for her powerful encore, “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.” When she went down onstage, people readily clicked their phone cameras, while some even stood up to shake her hand.
Sanchez has undoubtedly built a strong following in the Philippines and her local fan base is steadily growing.
“The journey doesn’t end here,” Sanchez said. “There are still many songs to learn and perform.”