Indian-American student Sonika Vaid survived two rounds of competition on American Idol this week. The top 24 contestants were tasked to perform twice: the first a solo number and the second a duet with a former American Idol winner.
The 20-year-old Vaid sung Taylor Swift and The Civil Wars's Safe & Sound for her solo, while for her duet with season 13 winner Caleb Johnson, she covered Adele's Skyfall. Vaid impressed the celebrity panel to snatch a place in the top 14 live shows, which will be held in two weeks.
“Sonika, I thought that was a really good job — in fact it was one of the more emotional performances I’ve seen,” said judge Harry Connick Jr of Vaid’s solo cover.
He then suggested: “Really accommodate the words even more because when you equate that with your ability to sing — it’s very powerful stuff.”
Fellow judge Keith Urban quipped, “I was making some notes and then you started singing — and I was like, ‘What the? What’s that sound?’ Your voice is so good, Sonika, it just is.”
Jennifer Lopez, noticing Vaid’s nerves, encouraged the young singer to loosen up.
“Your voice is so beautiful, seriously. Choose songs that really make you feel something — instead of stuff that just suits your voice, something that makes your heart sing.”
Vaid lives in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, with her Indian parents, who both emigrated to the United States. Anna and Ken Vaid were shown on camera watching their daughter from the audience area.
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 live rounds of the competition: Sanjaya Malakar, who finished seventh during season six, and Anoop Desai, who placed sixth during season eight.