LOS ANGELES, California — Vocal coach/mentor Robert Talon confessed that when his now-famous ward, “American Idol” Season 11 runnerup Jessica Sanchez was nearly eliminated seven weeks into the final stretch, it affected her so much that “she started trying too hard.”
Sanchez was declared to have received the lowest number of votes on the April 13 episode of the show, but judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler pulled out the lifeline for her. “You’re not going home! This is ridiculous! We’re using the save,” exclaimed Lopez, interrupting the proceedings onstage. “This girl is one of the best singers in America, ever,” Jackson added.
(Sanchez lost to 21-year-old Phillip Phillips at the grand finals on May 23.)
“Jessica is her own biggest critic. She likes things to be perfect,” Talon said of the 16-year-old powerhouse singer from Chula Vista, California. “I think her near elimination played with her head a little. After that, she started trying too hard instead of singing from the heart, like she’s used to doing.”
Talon added that Sanchez eventually “pulled it together when she needed to and continued on in the competition like the champ that she was.”
He pointed out that the future is certainly looking bright for Sanchez, who is among the Idol Top 12 to be featured in a concert tour starting this month. She was also invited to sing the US national anthem in the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley boxing match in Las Vegas yesterday.
Singer-actress Thalía—wife of Tommy Mottola, who coowns Casablanca Records—announced on Twitter recently that Mottola was “ready to work” with Sanchez.
Talon received a brand-new car from “Idol” as a reward for helping out Sanchez for the duration of the show. The Filipino-American mentor took time to chat with the Inquirer about his exceptionally talented student.
What is Jessica like as a person? How serious is she about music?
Jessica is one of the humblest people one can ever meet. At the same time, she is quite focused on what she wants to do with regards to her music. She is driven, and she aims for the top.
Is she really so mature as to keep assuring the whole world that the results were fair and Phillips deserved to win?
Jessica may only be 16, but she is mature beyond her years. When she said the results of “American Idol” were fair and that Phillip deserved to win, she meant it. She’s not one to sugarcoat.
Who picked the songs that she sang on “Idol”? What more do you think the girl can do that wasn’t already highlighted on TV?
At the end of the day, Jessica picked every single song she sang on the show. She was positioned as the female singing powerhouse on the program. Although she’s great at that, she still has so much in her arsenal to give to her fans, which is why they should be excited to see what she puts out in her first album. I can’t wait!
What should Jessica look out for?
She’s only 16. When it comes to talent and image, she’s got it … But we’ve told her repeatedly to always keep her feet on the ground and never forget where she came from. We’ve seen this scene played over and over in Hollywood—fame easily goes to one’s head if not managed right. There’s got to be one stern individual in her circle who’ll be able to tell her, “No!” when needed.
How does she take care of her voice?
She rests her voice when she needs to. Her mom whips up some ginger tea when her throat is a little sore. Other than these, vocal exercises keep her voice strong.
How does she dress offstage? Does she have a boyfriend?
She’s a very simple girl. Dress her up in jeans and T-shirt and she’s fine. No time for boys right now.
How long have you been working with Jessica? How did you feel when she was almost booted?
I’ve known Jessica since she was 9. My heart dropped when she was almost eliminated. Thanks to the judges, that was short-lived.
What are your qualifications as a coach?
I was never officially her vocal coach—just someone who helped guide her in making good, smart, sound decisions during the competition. And I’m definitely one of her biggest fans!
How do her parents treat you?
Her mom and dad became my best friends throughout this journey. It was like a roller-coaster ride, but well worth it.
How unique is Jessica’s talent compared to other singers that you have also helped?
I have yet to see another undiscovered person with Jessica’s talent in the years I’ve been working with her. She’s truly a diamond in the rough. We are all blessed to have witnessed this rising star on the show this year. What’s crazy is that she has only started. It’s the infancy of her career and the whole world now gets to come along for the ride!
Read more Jessica Sanchez news here.