'I lost so much weight, I looked like a skeleton'

PHOTO: The New Paper

Many doors have opened since she emerged runner-up in the 11th season of US reality singing series American Idol back in 2012.

Jessica Sanchez has been in the US musical dramedy Glee, released her debut album Me, You & the Music in 2013, toured globally and released a single called Two Forevers with Filipino singer Christian Bautista, which was written by US pop group Backstreet Boy's Nick Carter.

But one of the bubbly US singer's most treasured moments in her post-Idol music career is her first performance at The White House in 2013.

The 20-year-old sang the US national anthem The Star-Spangled Banner before President Barack Obama, his family and guests at the annual Easter Egg Roll festivities.


Sanchez, whose father is Mexican and whose mother is Filipino, told The New Paper: "I was so terrified. I messed up and started the song on the wrong key.

"After the song, the president turned to me to give me a hug, but that became awkward too, because I was so nervous."

Sanchez, who is in town to perform at the finals of local singing competition The Final 1 tomorrow night, performed again at The White House last year.

This time, it was her grandmother who made a boo-boo.

She said, laughing: "She was so excited that when she gave President Obama a hug, she accidentally kissed his collar. She was blushing when he mentioned it on the news."

Three years after leaving the American Idol stage, which saw Phillip Phillips bagging the title in the season, Sanchez knows too well the feelings of The Final 1 female finalists Jermaine Leong and Charlene Su.

The duo will be vying for the winning prize of $100,000 cash and a recording contract at the finals, which will air live on Channel 5 at 8pm from Capitol Theatre.

Despite going through "one of the best experiences" in her life on American Idol, Sanchez went through tough times as well.

"We were working 24/7. I had huge eye bags and lost so much weight, I looked like a skeleton. I didn't look too pretty," she recalled.

American Idol will end its run next year, after 14 years and 15 seasons.

"I'm definitely sad because Idol and the Idol family were a big part of my life, but I'm positive they will go out with a bang.

"There are so many formats and ways to discover talent now, be it through competitions like these, through YouTube or SoundCloud and so on... ," she said.

Sanchez had earned praise from one of the American Idol 11 judges, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, early on in the competition.

His exact words to her: "You have a voice from God, from heaven."

Sanchez is preparing for her second album and, having learnt from the mistakes of her debut pop effort, her follow-up will see her returning to her soul and R&B roots.

Sanchez parted ways mutually with her record label Interscope Records after making Me, You & the Music because they "were not on the same page".

"It wasn't really me and besides, I had a deadline to meet then.

"Now I'm taking my own time and giving fans music that is truly reflective of me," she said.


This article was first published on October 3, 2015.
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