Filipino ‘America’s Got Talent’ Singer Jessica Sanchez Dominates Pop Music

Samantha Agate
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Jessica SanchezNBC/Instagram

Jessica Sanchez is best known for completely blowing the competition away on American Idol in 2012. Before she was belting out classic ballads on the FOX show, she auditioned for America’s Got Talent. Jessica really set the standard for incredible Filipino performers on talent shows and showed off her captivating voice to the world. What has she been up to since finding talent show fame? 


Jessica Sanchez Battled For the Wildcard on Season 1 of ‘America’s Got Talent’

Jessica was born and raised in Chula Vista, California by a Filipino mom and a Mexican-American dad. She started singing when she was 2 years old, taking inspiration from musicians like Mariah Carey, Etta James, and Ray Charles. The youngster took any opportunity she could to sing in front of other people at birthday parties or in front of her grandmother’s friends. She was really shy and would stare at the floor the whole time.


Eventually, she was able to overcome her shyness. When she was 10, Jessica performed Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” on an episode of Showtime at the Apollo. She competed on the very first season of America’s Got Talent the following year. Jessica was the only contestant chosen for a wildcard slot whose audition did not air on television. 

Judge Brandy knew Jessica was a star on the rise and wanted America to hear her sing. At the time of her wildcard performance, Jessica’s father was serving in the US Navy and was deployed to Iraq. She wanted to make both her dad and Brandy proud with her performance of “I Surrender.”


Though she did not advance in the competition, Jessica took her success from AGT and began performing on stages everywhere. She released a few covers through an independent record label including “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna for Spin Move Records. In 2010, Jessica was one of the singers who participated in a YouTube edition of the charity single “We Are the World 25 for Haiti.”

She Grew Her Fanbase Even More on ‘American Idol’

Jessica really found her claim to fame on Season 11 of American Idol. It was her cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” that turned her into a global phenomenon. Jessica received one of the longest standing ovations in American Idol history and the judges jumped up and down in awe after her performance. She was labeled as the frontrunner.

She was saved from elimination by the judges after shockingly receiving the lowest number of votes in the Top 7. The judges jumped on stage while she was singing to tell her she would be saved. It was one of the most dramatic American Idol moments in history. The 16-year-old made it to the final two and fans thought she was going to win. It was Phillip Phillips who took home the prize that season.


Jessica landed a deal with Interscope Records shortly after competing and the world waited to see what she was going to do next. She took her talents to the small screen portraying the role of Frida Romero on the hit Fox show Glee. Her performance of the “Clarity” was so good that she got to perform it with Zedd on YouTube.

Jessica released her debut album, Me, You & the Music in 2013. It includes the hit “Tonight” with Ne-Yo which has over 23.5 million views on YouTube. She performed “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera during Season 16 of Dancing with the Stars. She also took a trip to Macau, China in 2013 to sing both the Filipino and United States national anthems at one of Manny Pacquiao’s fights.

Jessica Continues to Use Her Platform For Charity and Important Causes

Jessica performed at the Pinoy Relief Benefit Concert where all proceeds were donated to the Filipino citizens that were affected by Typhoon Haiyan. She parted ways with Interscope in 2014 due to her album underperforming. Jessica traveled back and forth to the Philippines for performances, not letting anything stop her.

In 2016, she released the single called “Stronger Together.” It became the campaign song for Hilary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. She was then brought back to sing “The Prayer” at the American Idol series finale on Fox. Even though the night was supposed to be about Trent Harmon and the end of an era, Twitter could only focus on Jessica’s stunning performance.

Jessica has always found time to give back to the Philippines. She took a trip with the Starkey Hearing Foundation to give out free hearing aids to those in need. During the pandemic, Jessica did take a little break from music. She decided to write the anti-racism anthem, “Us” to speak to the discrimination Asians are currently facing in America.

Jessica also spoke in a recent interview about songwriting and releasing singles that will eventually lead up to a new EP. In July, she began posting song covers of some of the most popular hits by modern artists including Ariana Grande and Dua Lipa. Her fans absolutely cannot wait to see what she decides to do next.

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