Jessica Sanchez was born and raised in Chula Vista, California by her Mexican American father and Filipino mother. She first came to the attention of many when at the age of 10, she got a standing ovation for performing Aretha Franklin's "Respect
" on Showtown at the Apollo
The following year Sanchez reached the wild card round of the America's Got Talent
semi-finals. The show's executive producer judge Simon Cowell named her performance of Celine Dion's "I Surrender," "one of the best I have ever heard."
The big-voiced teenager auditioned in San Diego for the eleventh season of American Idol
with a performance of Buddy Holly's "It Doesn't Matter Anymore
." Sanchez advanced to the final but lost out to Phillip Phillips.