Jessica Sanchez defends ‘American Idol,’ says protest ‘not necessary’

A wave and a tired smile. Photos by Elton Lugay

By Elton Lugay

Washington, D.C.— “It was completely fair. Phil deserved to win.”

With those words, “American Idol” finalist Jessica Sanchez brushed aside a protest by a FilAm community group. Migrant Heritage Commission, which is based here in D.C., is asking Fox TV to disclose “in the interest of transparency” how the voting was counted and how much of the 132 million votes went to the young singer.

Jessica, a close second to winner Phillip Phillips, told The FilAm: “I don’t think it’s necessary. I think Phil deserves to win, I think it was all fair. They wouldn’t ever cheat or anything like that. I think it was completely fair.”

I caught up with Jessica at a rehearsal of artists scheduled to perform at the May 27 National Memorial Day Concert to honor soldiers and veterans. With Jessica in the program are fellow Idol Chris Daughtry and Grammy-winning singer Natalie Cole.

“It means the world,” the 16-year-old was gushing. “My dad is part of the military and so is my grandfather. I’m excited, I feel like I’m really part of this and it’s an honor to be singing for everybody here today.”

Jessica’s Mexican father, Gilbert, is a Navy veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mother Editha is Filipino. Her maternal grandfather is a retired U.S. Navy man.

“I’m excited because my grandfather is a big part of the military, and he’s here to celebrate this time with me,” she said of the PBS program dedicated to active duty soldiers, veterans and their families. “It’s like I’m singing not only to him but to everybody else here.”

Wearing tight black jeans and an airy gray top that bared her belly, Jessica arrived here in late morning and took her place at the stage directly across from the Capitol’s west lawn. She looked drained and a wee bit cross. I was looking for the toothy smiles that became her endearing Idol trademark, but they did not flash naturally across her face. Maybe the post-Idol schedules are now taking their toll on her disposition.

She listened to a briefing by the PBS production crew then proceeded to belt the “Star-Spangled Banner.” There were moments when her voice cracked, but she would pause and continue to sing as if in a whisper. Seemed to me she was saving her big voice for the big night.

From two songs, PBS decided that Jessica will be singing three — the national anthem, “The Prayer” and “America, the Beautiful,” which is the finale song. After rehearsal, she took a 30-minute break to rest, freshen up, retouch her makeup and settle down for her interview.

“I think Philip deserves to win,” she told me, flashing what appeared to be a forced grin. “I worked hard and it got me to the Top 2 so I’m happy about that and I’m content with it.”

She said she was eternally grateful to her Filipino-Mexican background which formed the backbone of her overwhelming support. “I had a lot of support and it doesn’t necessarily mean voting-wise, I just had support from my people, and I appreciate it so much.”

Jessica, the oldest of three children – she has two younger brothers — said she speaks only English at home, but is looking forward to learning Tagalog in the future. “I grew up with my grandma and so is my mom who are from the Philippines, they make Filipino food and dishes for us all the time.”

Jessica said she plans to pursue her music career wherever it takes her, but will definitely go to college “as a back-up.”

“Music is pretty much my number one priority, next to family. I’m going to be working on some songs pretty soon,” she said. The latest word is that Tommy Mottola has offered to produce her first album for his Casablanca-UMG label Jessica was mum about the details.

“I’m definitely working on some things right now,” she said. “I’m at this event and we all worked it out and definitely trying to keep myself busy and I’m excited for the future.”

Jessica with FilAm journalists. Author is at center.


  1. Robert wrote:

    I love all my Philippino brothers and sisters. However in spite of all their good values and kind wishes toward their fellow man and woman; there greatest shortcoming is that when it comes to sports, education, politics, and entertainment; they seldom show what is known as “GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP”

  2. Ed&Ann wrote:

    We understand how Jessica Sanchez feels that if she protest it would look like that she is a sore loser and it would make it worst for her. But at the same time, the votes is still questionable. Due to the fact last year when American Idol Scotty McCreery won title for american idol, on that night of voting Scotty showed as the winning person on the online polls. And when they annouced the winner the next evening it was no surprise that he won. We were happy, we voted for him. He is an awesome singer. Here, same scenario as with Jessica Sanchez, really awesome singer, hands down; we remember seeing all online polls that we saw were showing that Jessica Sanchez won all the online polls we saw. And so when it was announced the next day, it was a shocker to many that Phil Phillips won. Nothing against Phil, he seems like the nicest guy in the world. And he does sing well. But when you have online polls telling you Jessica Sanchez is winning big time and you have a record breaking votes in American Idol history and all of the sudden you hear the other guy winning, I mean come on it makes people wonder is the voting is rigged. We are not saying it is rigged, but it makes a lot of people question their validity. Again, Jessica Sanchez is wise for not questioning it because it’s already a crazy business and she is too young to have to deal with the crazy whackos in corporate arena such as Fox and AI. In all, in all we wish them well. And I know Jessica is very talented and no doubt she will do well. She has so many people going for her. God bless you Jessica. We truly enjoy your singing.

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