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This is it!
Here are the ten female singers whose spectacular voices not only shaped singing competitions but also played a significant role in inspiring people to pursue a career in the music industry.
#10: Gerphil-Geraldine Flores (Asia’s Got Talent: Season One)
Pack your bags! We are traveling to Singapore to meet the first member of my Top Ten. When I first watched opera singer Gerphil-Geraldine Flores’s audition for the inaugural season, I immediately fell in love with her powerful voice. To the delight of both the audience and fellow judges, Gerphil’s music hero, David Foster, pressed his Golden Buzzer that sent Gerphil directly to the show’s semifinals. While she delivered superb performances in the judges’ auditions and semifinals, her omnipotent voice shot her to the stratosphere when she slain “The Impossible Dream.” While Gerphil placed third in the competition, the legendary music producer asked her to perform as a part of his Hitman: David Foster & Friends tour. Not only do I hope that Gerphil comes to the USA this year, but I firmly believe that she will gain a major American following if she visits this country.
#9: Sisaundra Lewis (The Voice USA: Season Six)
If you would ask me, “who is the greatest female singer who has ever appeared on The Voice USA?” I would easily say, Sisaundra Lewis. The former background singer and Celine Dion vocal director auditioned for The Voice: Season Six for her chance to shine as a solo artist. When she covered Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way” during the Blind Auditions, I stated that it was easily one of the best auditions in the show’s first six seasons. After picking Blake Shelton to be her coach, Sisaundra continued to blossom as an artist and delivered so many show-stopping moments. While she was sadly eliminated at the end of Top Eight week, Sisaundra continued to perform at festivals across the country and released “Circle of Love” in 2015.
#8: Jessica Sanchez (American Idol: Season 11)
I believe that the first post-Saula (Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul) superstar was Jessica Sanchez. When I first heard her sing Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” to then judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler, I knew she would make a significant impact on her season. Each round, she got stronger vocally and impressed mentors Mary J. Blige, will.i.am, Diddy, and Stevie Nicks. While she may not have won her season, Jessica started to build an active post-Idol career. She guest-starred on Glee, sang for President Obama, collaborated with Ne-Yo and Zedd, and recorded the Carole Bayer Sager and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds-penned “Stronger Together,” which was used as a rally song for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign. Jessica was amongst the alumni that returned for the American Idol series finale and stole the night with her rendition of “The Prayer.”
#7: Leona Lewis (The X Factor UK: Season Three)
We are time traveling back to 2006. Simon Cowell was in the middle of filming the third season of his singing competition: The X Factor UK. He was looking to find UK’s own Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood after both Steve Brookstein and Shayne Ward’s post-show careers were slowing down. Along came Leona Lewis. The former receptionist impressed Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh, and guest judge Paula Abdul and received a pass to Boot Camp and Judges’ Houses, where she was put in Simon’s category (the 16-24s). After passing those tests, Simon awarded her with a spot in the Live Shows. Week after week, Leona outshined and outsang her competition and became the very first female singer to win the series. After the show, she signed a record deal with Syco Records and Clive Davis’ J Records. Her first two records, 2007’s Spirit & 2009’s Echo, sold a combined 13,000,000 records worldwide. Leona left Syco Records in 2014 and released her first album with Island Records, I Am, on September 11, 2015. Over the past two years, Leona ventured outside of the music world and made her debuts in the 2014 film Walking on Sunshine and on the Broadway stage (2016’s Cats). No matter what she does, Leona Lewis will always persevere and shine like a superstar.
#6: Barbara Padilla (America’s Got Talent: Season Four)
I have said this numerous times throughout my career as a blogger, “Without Barbara Padilla auditioning for America’s Got Talent, there would not be a Jackie Evancho, Lucy Kay or Gerphil-Geraldine Flores.” Eight years ago, I, along with millions of people, first watched Barbara Padilla grace the America’s Got Talent stage and blow the country away with her cover of “O Mio Babbino Caro.” Her powerful voice gave me goose bumps and every single time that Barbara graced the stage I thought I was watching the First Lady of Opera perform for the entire country to see. While she may have lost her season, Barbara released her debut album in 2014, sang at the 2015 Special Olympics and was the special guest for the late Juan Gabriel’s Mexican tour. I believe that we have not heard the last from her and I hope that releases new material soon.
#5: Susan Boyle (Britain’s Got Talent: Season Three)
My parents, Gloria and Matthew Elyachar, have taught me one major lesson that has stuck with me to this day is “Never judge a book by its cover.” In 2009, Susan Boyle became one of YouTube’s first viral sensation after her great cover of “I Dreamed a Dream” blew cynical audience members away. After receiving three “Yeses” from Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden, and Simon Cowell, the whole world took notice as media personalities Larry King, Meredith Vieira, and Oprah Winfrey conducted interviews with her on their respective shows. Susan continued to blossom in front of the world and made a positive impact on the world. Recently, Ms. Boyle released her seventh studio album, A Wonderful World, and became the first British artist to sing a viral duet with the late Nat King Cole.
#4: Carrie Underwood (American Idol: Season Four)
12 years ago, the world was introduced to Carrie Underwood. She grew up on her family’s farm in Checotah, Oklahoma and never got to experience a lot of things that we take for granted. When she sang Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” Simon called her performance: “very good” and was handed a Golden Ticket. Who knew that Golden Ticket would take her all the way to the Idol finale, where she was crowned the series’ fourth champion. After earning seven Grammy Awards, eight People’s Choice Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards and sold 16,104,000 records, Ms. Underwood was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and held the Guinness World Record for Most Country Number Ones for a Female Artist in the United States. Carrie remains one of the reasons we keep seeing country singers audition for America’s Got Talent and The Voice.
#3: Fantasia (American Idol: Season Three)
American Idol: Season Three was filled with talent but out of many voices that auditioned for the show, there are only two artists that stood out to me and one of them was Fantasia Barrino. When I saw her Judges’ Audition, I believed that she would be one of the biggest artists to come out of the FOX singing competition. Fantasia created countless magical moments on the show and earned high praise from music royalty including Ashford & Simpson, Barry Manilow, Clive Davis, Donna Summer, Elton John, and Gloria Estefan. When she won the series, there was not a dry eye in the Dolby Theatre. Since her time on American Idol, Fantasia released five studio albums and sold over 3,190,000 albums in the United States. Also, Fantasia paid homage to her heroes: Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, and Patti LaBelle, who dubbed her “Baby Patti LaBelle.” She also portrayed Celie in the Broadway production of The Color Purple and was a special guest performer in After Midnight. Because of Fantasia, several artists such as Amber Riley and Joshua Ledet were inspired by her to pursue their music careers.
#2: Jennifer Hudson (American Idol: Season Three)
While she did not win her season, Jennifer Hudson has had the biggest career that a non-winner of a talent competition could have. Her first audition took the world by storm, and I knew that Jennifer would be a force to be reckoned with in the contest. However, when America eliminated her way too early in the semifinals, it was Randy Jackson that brought her back into the competition as his Wild Card pick and Jennifer did not disappoint. Even Sir Elton John stated: “Jennifer Hudson blew me away and sent chills up my spine. It was my favorite performance out of the whole lot.” Unfortunately, Jennifer was eliminated during the Top Seven round. However, her career was just beginning as she became the only American Idol alum to receive an Academy Award for her show-stopping performance as Effie White in 2006’s Dreamgirls. She also earned the respect of her heroes including the Reverend Al Green, Patti LaBelle, and the late Whitney Houston, who presented Ms. Hudson with her very first Grammy in 2009. In addition to music and movies, the Oscar and Grammy Winner appeared on hit TV shows: Smash and Empire. Currently, Jennifer Hudson is mentoring aspiring artists as the sixth season of The Voice UK. Her artists are going to learn from the best in the business.
#1: Kelly Clarkson (American Idol: Season One)
15 years ago, Kelly Clarkson began a journey that transformed her from a former waitress to one of the biggest stars in the music industry. She not only slayed Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” but also showcased a great sense of humor after she traded places with Randy Jackson so that he could audition for the show. After Randy had shown off, he, Paula and Simon gave her the three “Yeses” that she needed to go to Hollywood. Week after week, Kelly rose to the occasion and delivered great vocal performances that set the standard for future singers who appeared on countless talent competition shows. After winning the crown, Kelly took the music world by storm as she sold 13,982,000 albums, earned three Grammys, four American Music Awards, and 12 Billboard Music Awards, worked with numerous artists such as John Legend, Josh Groban, Martina McBride, Pentatonix, and her mother-in-law: Reba McEntire. In addition to all these accolades, she also performed at President Barack Obama’s second Inauguration four years ago. Ms. Clarkson remains one of the only two alums to be a guest mentor and a judge for the show. Despite Idol’s cancellation, I truly believe that Kelly Clarkson will continue to inspire others to chase their dreams and pursue a career in the music industry.
I do not own any of the clips. They belong to the following broadcast companies:
*American Idol: FOX, FremantleMedia North America & 19 Entertainment.
*America’s Got Talent: FremantleMedia North America, NBC & Syco Television.
*Asia’s Got Talent: AXN Asia, FremantleMedia Asia, Sony Pictures Television, & Syco Television.
*Britain’s Got Talent: iTV, Syco Television & Thames
*The Voice USA: MGM Television, NBC & Warner Horizon Television
*The X Factor UK: iTV, Syco Television & Thames.