Talk about a proud moment for American Idol finalist Jessica Sanchez…
During last night’s two-hour episode, the 16-year-old half-Mexican singer delivered two knockout performances and shined bright during her “girl power” trio with fellow female finalists Hollie Cavanagh and Skylar Laine.
During the first hour, which was dedicated to songs of the ‘60s, Sanchez tackled living legend Tina Turner’s trademark rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.”
Guest mentor Steve Van Zandt—the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen‘s E Street Band and ex-Sopranos actor—initially tried to dissuade Sanchez from performing the song, but she ultimately won him over.
Dressed to the nines in a heavily chained body-hugging white dress and a pair of sky-high heels, the petite San Diego native delivered a spot-on vocal performance, complete with growls and a massive high note at the end. Sanchez even channeled some of Turner’s on-stage effervescence by shimmying and shaking across the stage.
“You’re so grown up there; it’s crazy! I always forget you’re 16 years old,” said Idol judge Jennifer Lopez. “You brought it out there. You were a little bit of Tina, a little bit of Beyonce, a little bit of I don’t know what up there!”
Sanchez later took the stage with Cavanagh and Laine to perform a lively rendition of Jackie Wilson‘s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” which proved to be a much better performance than Phillip Phillips and Joshua Ledet’s take on the Righteous Brothers‘ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”
But it was Sanchez’s final performance, as part of the show’s British pop theme, which seriously set her apart from the competition. It was her latest American Idol “moment,” following her previous performances of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams.”
Dressed in an intricate black and white dress and sprawled on the stage next to several LED candles, Sanchez delivered an earnest and emotional rendition of Joe Cocker‘s “You Are So Beautiful,” which she later admitted was sung with her mother in mind.
“You once again showed America just how beautiful your voice is… and what a great singer you are,” declared Idol judge Steven Tyler. “You’re gonna be No. 1 girl.”