The journey of Indian-American contestant Sonika Vaid on American Idol has ended. The 20-year-old student was eliminated on this week's episode of the reality-singing programme. Vaid has finished fifth overall.
“Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Vaid after it was revealed she had received the least number of audience votes among the remaining five finalists.
Vaid’s boot did not come as a surprise to many: in the previous two weeks, she had been on the bottom of the pack when it came to public voting. She was, however, saved by the judges on both occasions and had been allowed to continue on in the competition.
“You are a fighter,” judge Jennifer Lopez told Vaid. “You are not ready to go home.”
Based in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Vaid is a child of Indian immigrants. She begun singing at the age of three. Before entering American Idol, Vaid was studying biology in university.
In an interview earlier this week, Vaid reflected on her American Idol experience. "I think I've definitely become more comfortable on stage and just performing in general," she said.
“I remember being in my first audition. I was just shaking constantly. I almost cried when I was singing. I’m still nervous about performing, but I’m starting to find my place on the stage more.”
Throughout her journey on American Idol, Vaid was accompanied on every show by her mother Anna, which Vaid says has been a relief. "My mum's out here — that's a living, human comfort," she said. Her father Ken, however, was only able to attend one show due to work commitments back in Massachusetts.
“I do have my dad’s scarf,” Vaid said, “and I made him spray his cologne on it before I left.”
Vaid's fifth-place finish is the highest placing of any contestant of South Asian origin throughout the 15 seasons of American Idol. Since the show's premiere in 2002, only two South Asian contestants have made it to the top 10: Sanjaya Malakar, who finished seventh during season six, and Anoop Desai, who placed sixth during season eight.
The remaining four contestants battling it out for the American Idol title are belter La’Porsha Renae, singer-guitarist MacKenzie Bourg, pop-rocker Dalton Rapattoni and soul artist Trent Harmon. The competition culminates in a big finale on April 7.