American Idol is back for its 11th season this year, and the talent just keeps getting better and better. As the end of this season approaches, only three contestants remain, and 16-year-old Chula Vista resident Jessica Sanchez is among them.
Regardless of how the season turns out, you can see Sanchez perform on July 26, when the American Idol Live! tour stops at Valley View Casino Center. Sign up here for a chance to win tickets and a meet-and-greet with the performers.
Born in Chula Vista, Sanchez has been performing since she was just 7 years old. What shocks most people is that she's never had any formal singing lessons -- something that’s hard to believe once you hear her powerful and professional voice.
Sanchez performed "How Will I Know?" by Whitney Houston this season and got a standing ovation from the judges and audience.
"You did an amazing job," Idol star Randy Jackson said. " I can't believe the maturity in you."
"Your vocals make everything go away for me," Jennifer Lopez added. "Really good performance."
The same night, Sanchez introduced her alter-ego, BB Chez, which she said reveals her wild side. Sanchez’s musical influences include Beyoncé, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Etta James.
Sanchez has been a contestant not just on American Idol but also on the show America’s Got Talent, where she performed Celine Dion’s "I Surrender" at the age of 11. She has also made appearances at national football games. In 2008, she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before a San Diego Chargers game.
Sanchez’s talent has helped her gain more and more recognition around the country and earned her a dedicated fan base. She serves as a role model for young, aspiring singers. She has over 198,000 "likes" on Facebook and about 330,000 Twitter followers. Her favorite quote is "Work hard, stay humble," and she has certainly adhered to these standards throughout the competition.
When asked in an interview what her definition of success is, Sanchez said it’s all about being happy in the position that you're in and being able to feel accomplished in that position.
Sanchez is the youngest contestant in American Idol's Top 3 this season and has already achieved so much.
“I've been performing ever since I was 7, so I've had the experience and practice to help me work on some things," Sanchez said. "I think stage presence is very important, just the way you present yourself to the audience.”
Sanchez returned home over the weekend to perform at the 933 Summer Kickoff concert and serenade her father, who is a member of the U.S. Navy, at the USS Midway Museum.
The Idol star has made no secret of her love for Chula Vista, and the city is reciprocating that love. Mayor Cheryl Cox declared May 12 to be "Jessica Sanchez Day," and a viewing party will be held on May 16 at EastLake Tavern & Bowl to cheer Sanchez on and vote for her.
With any luck, all of that support will result in Sanchez being crowned the next American Idol. Either way, fans can cheer her on during the July 26 show. The winner of the Americal Idol Live! concert contest will receive four front-row tickets, parking, and a meet-and-greet with the performers. You can enter to win here.