Update: The “never pitchy” Sonika Vaid made it to American Idol‘s Top 10 finals on Thursday night. She had a tough act to follow performing after the confident, soaring vocals of La’Porsha Renae. But Sonika brought new life to a hit song by Evanescence while rocking Kalinda-worthy boots. Here she is singing “Bring Me to Life”:
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Until recently, Sonika Vaid of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, was a junior in college with a biology major. Now she’s a contestant on the 15th and final season of TV’s American Idol, blowing away judges and audiences week by week with her powerful vocals. In a recent Billboard interview, the 20-year-old Vaid listed the Bee Gees, Elton John, and Celine Dion as her formative listening influences. She also shared that her mother (who is her vocal coach) really encouraged her in music and singing, signing young Sonika up for a school show in which she sang Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
Last night, after judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., fast-tracked four contestants directly into the Top 10, Vaid sang for one of the six remaining spots. Once again paying homage to Dion, Vaid performed power ballad “I Surrender,” giving judge Jennifer Lopez “goosies” on her face and wowing judge Keith Urban. Lopez told Sonika “The way your voice sits in the music is so out of this world.”
The Top 10 finalists are revealed live tonight, and if she makes it, Sonika Vaid will be the third South Asian American contestant to enter the series finals. Sanjaya Malakar and Anoop (Noop Dawg) Desai competed in Season 6 and 8 finals, respectively. Gurpreet Singh Sarin, American Idol‘s first Sikh contestant and nicknamed the Turbanator, narrowly missed making the Season 12 finals.
Visit American Idol‘s website for information on all of this year’s talented contestants. Scroll down to listen to more of Sonika’s impressive sound.
The Top 24 performance of Taylor Swift’s “Safe & Sound” from the Hunger Games soundtrack showcased a softer, angelic side to Vaid’s voice. Her Instagram shares clips of her singing the song with piano. If Vaid makes it into the Top 10, maybe the audience will see her perform with the piano.
Sonika’s reaction to being paired up with Season 13 winner Caleb Johnson? “Oh my god, he’s so rock.” But the rock star and the pop princess synced up really well to create a beautiful sound for their dramatic “Skyfall” duet.
For her audition in Denver, Sonika sang Idol winner Carrie Underwood’s “Look At Me” and wowed the judges. Harry Connick, Jr., went so far as to say that he thinks “she can win this thing.” In this video, she also talks about her family and her parents who immigrated to the U.S. from India.
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