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American Idol

Who Is Jessica Sanchez? American Idol 2012 Contestant Background Info

When 16-year-old Jessica Sanchez says she’s been singing her whole life, she means it. By age 11, the powerhouse singer had already appeared on America’s Got Talent, where she wowed with her cover of “I Surrender.” Five years later, she’s still stealing the show — taking second place as the runner-up to winner Phillip Phillips on American Idol Season 11.

Jessica was born in Chula Vista, California to Gilbert and Editha Sanchez. Her father, a Texan, has Mexican heritage, and her mother was born in the Philippines. They later relocated to San Diego, where the talented singer is now a high school student.

Though we didn’t see much of her before her Vegas performance of “The Prayer,” she proved herself worthy of more screen time early on in the American Idol Season 11 competition. In the after, she slayed one performance after the next, making her a definite competition frontrunner — or at least that's what we thought. In the Top 7 week, America was stunned when Jessica landed at the bottom of the heap and faced elimination, but the judges chose to use their save on her. Phew!

After her dramatic redemption, Jessica continued to impress the judges and American Idol voters with stunning versions of classic tunes and her poise as a young performer. Her rendition of Luther Vandross' "Dance With My Father" garnered glowing praise, and despite criticism over her "age inappropriate" dress, Jessica's take on Ike and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" proved she could perform upbeat tunes with spunk.

Facing off against Phillip Phillips in Top 2, we had high hopes that she'd be the first girl to take home the title since Jordin Sparks won Season 6. Sadly, it was not meant to be. On May 23, 2012, a record-breaking 132 million votes were cast, declaring Phillip the winner of American Idol.

Jessica's runner-up status is still an amazing achievement. Since Idol, Jessica has been working on her new album, set to release in May, and preparing for a guest starring role on the last two episodes of Glee this season.

Watch all of Jessica Sanchez's American Idol performances here.

03.22.2013 / 06:13 AM EDT by Jenny McGrath
Related: American Idol, American Idol Season 11, Jessica Sanchez

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