Sonika Vaid, 20, from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, is being touted as an early favorite to win the last season of American Idol, after just one soulful rendition which wowed the judges on the show. Vaid impressed the judges – Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr – with her beautiful cover of ‘Look at Me’, the hit by former Idol winner Carrie Underwood, reported The National.
Sonika Vaid, a sophomore at William Smith College in New York, who grew up in Weston, Massachusetts, advanced to the top 10 of the reality competition American Idol, wowing judges on the way. Vaid was one of the 10 singers who advanced last week from the 14 who were left to participate for the cut-off voting stage.
“This is one of the only times this particular season that I saw somebody that I actually think can win this thing,” said Connick. “You sang beautifully. Perfect performance. I was totally engaged. Terrific job.” Lopez also congratulated Vaid, saying: “I love it, I love it a lot.” Urban added: “How beautiful that you just let it go, too? You didn’t stack it with a bunch of clever runs. You just sang.”
Vaid’s strong performance of “I Surrender” by Celine Dion got a standing ovation from judge Jennifer Lopez. She had also performed superbly “Bring Me to Life” by Evanesence. Vaid sang the Celine Dion classic, “I Surrender” for the first time for Idol audiences and on the American Idol stage. The song showed off Vaid’s powerful and commanding voice as well as her contemporary yet classic singing style, reported Romper.
“The song highlighted what a vocal powerhouse Vaid truly could be, while also offering audience members a glimpse as to what she would be like as a performer if voted into the Top 10. The performance showed off a true star quality to the 20-year-old from Massachusetts that viewers of the show had never seen in Vaid before. In other words, she killed her performance — and that is putting it lightly. Judging from the reactions of the judges and Twitter, everyone else seemed to agree” Romper noted.
The performance started off slow, with Vaid’s vocals accompanied only by a piano. When the backing band kicked in with the chorus of the song, Vaid’s voice truly began to shine. “I said your voice was from God in the (video) package. Its so true,” Lopez said. “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten goosies on my face. That was the first time!” Lopez added, referring to the goose bumps Vaid’s voice gave Lopez from her performance of the song. “The way your voice sits in the music is so out of this world,” Lopez continued. “It is insane! So beautiful!”
The rest of the judging panel, comprised of Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban resisted the urge to speak about the performance due to the show’s timing, but you could tell they were dying to comment on the stellar performance, said media reports. “You know, you sang beautifully. That was a perfect performance. . . . That’s a pure, God-given voice,” Connick Jr. said. Fans of Vaid and viewers at home seemed to agree with Lopez’s comments, taking to Twitter to praise the performance.
“The first time I remember singing was when I was 3 at my sister’s first birthday,” said Vaid, a summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, and a 2013 graduate of Weston High School. The first season of “American Idol” aired when she was about 5 years old. “I was an on-and-off ‘Idol’ fan growing up,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is the last [season]. This is the last opportunity I’ll get” to try out.
Singing for judges and an audience and millions of at-home viewers is “an out-of-body experience. It’s beyond me,” said Vaid, who “hated the thought of singing” in public as a little kid. A pianist since age 4, she loved that “I could hide my face behind the piano. Then in ninth grade, there was a talent show. My friends wanted me to sign up, and I was like, ‘No. I don’t want to do that.’ I was so shy,” she recalled. Vaid got up the gumption, sang “Believe in Me” by Demi Lovato in front of the whole school, then promptly ran out into the hallway and “started freaking out,” said the Globe report. Vaid won.
Vaid’s parents, Kuldip and Ananya, were born in India and moved to the US as kids. Vaid, the oldest of four children, said her “entire family is musical . . . except for my dad.” “The sayonara season of American Idol has only just begun, but we may already have a winner,” The Boston Globe reported.
American Idol’s latest season is its 15th and final edition. Since its premiere in 2002, only two contestants of South Asian origin have reached the final 12 stage of the competition: Sanjaya Malakar, who finished seventh during season six, and Anoop Desai, who placed sixth during season eight.