By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
It is a pleasure to welcome Jessica Sanchez to Jake’s Take.
Since she was 10-years-old, Ms. Sanchez has blown worldwide audiences away thanks to her appearances on Showtime on the Apollo’s Kid Stars of Tomorrow and the first season of America’s Got Talent in 2006. But, it was not until 2012, when she auditioned in front of Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler during the eleventh season of American Idol, that her life changed forever.
Every time that Jessica appeared on the Idol stage, she not only blew the audience and judges away with every performance but also impressed guest mentors Mary J. Blige, Stevie Nicks, Akon and Steven Van Zandt. While she finished second in the competition, Jessica’s bright future in the entertainment industry was cemented with numerous opportunities that included a recurring role on Glee, a performance at the White House and collaborations with Adl.de.Ap, Ne-Yo and Zedd.
In this edition of A Conversation, Jessica reflected on her Idol experience and shared what fans can expect from her this year.
Jacob Elyachar: How have you grown as an artist since you were on “American Idol”?
Jessica Sanchez: I was 16-years-old when I appeared on American Idol, and the show was my boot camp. It was a crazy, stressful at times, experience. But, I learned a lot from the different contestants and judges, and it was an overall good experience in general. Four years later, I am 20-years-old, and I think that I have grown a lot as an artist. I have been writing about my experiences of love and overcoming the struggles that I have faced in the music industry. I have so much more to tell my fans, and I know so much more about myself. It is crazy how much I have grown over these past years.
JE: What were some of your favorite memories from your time on “Idol”?
JS: Even though it was a stressful time in my life, I have a lot of good memories from my Idol experience. When you are in the American Idol bubble, a lot of contestants want to go as far as they can and wish to be on point with ready-to-go songs. Overall, the judges (Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler) were excellent, and the staff and contestants were like family. There were a couple of times when I almost fell on stage (laughs) and the countless behind-the-scenes funny moments that I had with the Idol family. My favorite memory with the contestants occurred during Hollywood Week when all 500 of us hung out together and jammed all day.
JE: You were one-of-two contestants in “Idol” history to perform a song that was performed by a member of the “Idol” Judges’ Panel in front of that particular judge in the Live Rounds. Your rendition of Aerosmith’s classic “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” in Top 3 Week received a standing ovation from Steven Tyler. Why did you pick that song? What was your reaction when you saw Steven Tyler’s standing ovation?
JS: When I arrived at Top 3 Week, I wanted to challenge myself vocally. “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” is a hard song to perform (Laughs), I was worried that I was not going to reach that significant note that is at the end of the song. Thank god, Steven loved it! He was the nicest and friendliest judge that I have met. He also invited me to chat with him whether I had free time on the Idol set.
JE: For your final appearance on the “Idol” stage, you collaborated with Jennifer Holliday for a show-stopping rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” What was it like performing with the powerful music and theatre icon?
JS: Honestly, I thought I was going home at the end of Top 7 Week. I was up against so many talented people and before the Judges saved me, I thought: “I made it this far, and I am thankful for the experience,” and then they saved me. At Top 3 week, it was me, Joshua and Phillip. I swear I thought I was going home and I prepared myself for the outcome. When I found out that I made it to the Season 11 finale, I was so shocked that if you went on YouTube and re-watch the Top 3 Results Show, you will see my face looked like a bus hit it. (Laughs). When I found out that I was going to be singing with Jennifer Holliday, I literally freaked out! I grew up listening to her, and I was going to cry because I sang with someone who is a huge inspiration to me. I felt so blessed to be able to sing with her. We only rehearsed two times for that performance. (JE: Really?) My voice shut down; it was gone! I had a voice doctor look at my throat because it was so bad and we just hoped for the best. I just left it all up to God to do his thing, and that performance was a moment for me.
JE: You had the opportunity to be signed to a major label. What were some of the pros and cons by a major label?
JS: The thing that I did not like about being signed to a label was I unable to have control over what I wanted to do. They guided me to a musical genre and direction that was not completely me. I was young, I did not even know myself and did not know what exactly I wanted to do. I felt that they rushed me. After Idol had ended, I went on tour and flew back and forth to different cities such as LA, Nashville and New York to record songs. But, the best part of being signed to a major label was having the support of a big company behind me and the ability to meet new artists and producers. My experience working with a major label was not all bad, I was blessed to go through that experience, and I know what to do during the next time around.
JE: What can your fans expect from you this year?
JS: This year, I want to release music that is true to myself. I also want to let my fans know that I will not hold myself back anymore. Everybody knows me as “15-Year-Old Little Jessica who was on American Idol and who is this sweet, quiet girl.” I am very soft-spoken, but I have gone through numerous experiences, and I want to speak out and tell people what has been going on in my life. I have also written more songs, and my music has shifted more towards the urban/contemporary R&B genre. I have always wanted to do that genre, and I hope to release some new music this year. I want to show my supporters—the direction I wish to go into, and my fans know that is what I want to do! They even have recommended songs for me to sing, I love my fans…they are awesome!
JE: If you had the chance to meet with aspiring singers who want to enter the music industry, what advice would you share with them?
JS: A lot of people who wanted to audition for Idol have asked me: “What should I do?” or “How to I prepare myself?” I always told them: “Just go in and believe in yourself.” Do not let anything get in your way of chasing your dreams. It is all going to work out and always stay humble.
I do not own any of the clips that are sprinkled in the interview. Jessica’s “American Idol” performances belong to FOX, 19 Entertainment & FremantleMedia North America while her “Showtime at the Apollo” performance is the property of the Apollo Theatre and her appearance on “America’s Got Talent” belongs to NBC & SYCO Entertainment.