Reporting Annie Reuter
Jessica Sanchez became a household name during Season 11 of American Idol with her powerhouse vocals. The season runner-up, Sanchez grew up singing Whitney Houston and Disney songs so it comes as no surprise that her covers of Houston and Aretha Franklin had her at the top of the competition.
American Idol wasn’t the first time she auditioned for a singing competition, though. Sanchez tried out for America’s Got Talent at the age of 10 and was devastated when she didn’t make the cut.
“That’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she told Radio.com. “I was traumatized when I didn’t make it on [America's Got Talent]. It just made me stronger. Then Idol came and I was eligible for that. I didn’t think I would make it that far. Logically, out of all these people how would I win or how would I get in the Top 10?”
She made it not only to the Top 10, but the final two. Radio.com talked with the 17-year-old during the week of her debut album release Me, You & the Music and Sanchez filled us in on why she likens singing songs written by others to acting (she recently guest-starred on Glee).
“I’ve been singing my whole life, and I had to play a different character while singing, which is easy for me [but] not so easy on Glee,“ she said. “I’ve been training myself and listening to other artists and seeing where their emotion comes from, singing a heartbreak song when they’re in a happy relationship. It’s difficult to explain, but when the music comes on and I listen to the lyrics it puts me in a different place and I feel like I’ve been heartbroken for years and I haven’t seen my man in 20 years — and I’m only 17.”
While Me, You & the Music showcases Sanchez’s powerful vocals, her latest single, “Tonight” featuring Ne-Yo,shows off her party side. Sanchez met Ne-Yo in the studio after he recorded his part on the song, at which point he “handed [her] a piece of paper with a couple words on it.” Those notes ended up being another song on her album, titled “Plastic Roses,” which “he wrote in 40 minutes.” “I’m so very blessed to have worked with him,” she added.
Sanchez worked with a slew of producers and songwriters for Me, You & The Music — including Stargate, Sia and Benny Benassi — and put her own “island feel” on Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around.”
Proud of every track on the album, Sanchez said she couldn’t have asked for a better debut experience. Though she didn’t serve as the album’s songwriter, she said it’s a direction she’d like to move in down the line.
“For every single song on the album there was always a little bit of something in there that I loved,” she said. “Whether it was ‘Plastic Roses,’ with the melody and the lyrics, so beautiful and touching, a lot of people can relate to it. ‘Right To Fall’ is about the gay marriage and bi-racial love, which struck out to me lyric-wise. ‘Gentleman’ has that whole urban feel. Every single song touched me a little way.”