Indian-American contestant Sonika Vaid has survived another week on American Idol after being put at risk for elimination.
The 20-year-old student was part of this week’s bottom three acts after receiving the least number of audience votes. However she was saved by the judging panel from elimination and has thus advanced to next week’s final 6 show. Vaid was selected by the judges over Avalon Young and Lee Jean, who were both eliminated.
This week, each of the singers performed a solo as well as a duet with a fellow contestant. Vaid, who was partnered with Young, performed Andra Day’s soul track Rise Up.
While pointing out that the song was better suited to Young’s rhythmic sensibilities, judge Harry Connick Jr still praised Vaid: “Sonika, your voice — week after week — is just breathtaking.”
For her solo performance, Vaid covered Whitney Houston's classic power ballad I Have Nothing, which eventually earned her the judges' save.
"That song has been sung six times since American Idol started and they've all been pretty darn good performances," said Connick. "I think that song is one of those high-risk, high-reward ones. For me, I loved it."
Keith Urban told Vaid: “Your voice is gorgeous. All I ask is you continue to release and let go.”
In an interview prior to her performance, Vaid talked about her musical influences.
“I came from a family of musicians,” she said. “My mum’s dad taught himself how to sing and play the harmonium. He taught my mum how to sing, and my mum taught me. She’s an amazing vocalist — she performed in Bollywood — but she doesn’t really like me to tell people that.”
A child of Indian immigrants, Vaid grew up in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. Her mother Anna, who has accompanied her throughout her journey on American Idol, said in an interview: "The name Sonika comes from the first time I saw her. Sonika — it came out of my mouth. Sonika means 'made of gold'."
Aside from Vaid, the final 6 comprises of La’Porsha Renae, MacKenzie Bourg, Trent Harmon, Dalton Rappatoni and Tristan McIntosh.
This is American Idol's 15th and last edition. The current semi-final rounds will culminate in a big finale on April 7.