What do Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston and Jessica Sanchez have in common?

If Whitney Houston hadn’t died, I probably would have never been introduced to Jessica Sanchez’s talent being showcased on American Idol this season.

I’m not a fan of American Idol. I’ve never watched the show as it airs, but I voted for one contestant last night for the first time.

What brought this about? When I saw in the news that a young contestant on American Idol sang “I Will Always Love You” and earned a standing ovation from the judges.  I turned to YouTube and watched Jessica Sanchez sing the song and I was hooked.

So, now I am a fan of Jessica Sanchez, who reminds me of many of the students I taught at Nogales High School in La Puente, California. Eight percent of the students at the high school were Filipino and 70% Latino and for years I taught there, most of the immigrant students were usually the best academically and were a pleasure to work with. In addition, when I taught journalism for seven years, most of the students that signed up for the class were either Asian or from the Philippines.

Students from Asia, which includes the Philippines, were almost always focused and earned higher grades compared to the other ethnicities that I taught and I taught them all.

Jessica’s mother is a Philippine immigrant and her father is Mexican American from Texas, The father was also a U.S. Navy veteran that fought in the Iraq War. The mother is from Bataan Province in the Philippines. Her maternal grandfather is a retired U.S. Navy sailor.

I was born in Southern California and I am a former US Marine and Vietnam Veteran, which may help explain why I went online last night and voted for Jessica several times. I have no idea why American Idol allows people to vote 50 times for one show but I did vote over and over and didn’t bother to count.

Since I do not tune into American Idol — in fact I don’t watch TV programs while they air (we watch DVD’s and/or recordings of programs so we can speed through the commercial breaks — we record 20/20 and 60 Minutes and I live by a rule that the TV stays off until after 8 PM.) If I like a TV show, I wait until the DVDs come out and buy the season.

If you have heard Jessica Sanchez sing, you may know why Whitney Houston’s death (February 11, 2012) caused me to be introduced to the young lady from Southern California several months after Houston’s death.

Jessica sang “I Will Always Love You” (on May 7, 2012), one of my favorite songs ever—I listened to that song on the way to work back in the year Whitney Houston sang it in 1992 every day for about a year.  The drive to work was about an hour long so I listened to that one song several times each day.

“I Will Always Love You” was original Dolly Parton’s song (she wrote and performed it in 1973, and Houston would make the song an international hit in 1992 earning both her and Parton a lot of money.

Since hearing Jessica sing that one song, I started waiting until the day after American Idol airs on Wednesday and Thursday to turn to YouTube to watch and hear Jessica sing along with all of the other contestants and each time I have felt she is one of the top three singers on the show this season.

I’ve since larned it is easier to tune into the American Idol Website and watch the performances there.  All one has to do is put up with one short commercial before a contestant sings so now I watch then all and Jessica is still my favorite although I must say that Joshua Ledet (lots of passion in his voice) and Elise Testone (there is something smoky about her singing) are talented too. The others haven’t been as consistently strong as Jessica, Elise and Joshua.  If I was a gambling man, which I’m not anymore (at least for now), I’d bet that the final two will come down to Joshua and Jessica.

I agree with one of the American Idol Judges, Randy Jackson, that one day Jessica will be a music legend.  Jackson is a Grammy Award winning producer that has worked with singers such as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Elton John and many more.

He has worked on more than 1,000 gold and multi-platinum albums, which have sold over 200 million albums world-wide. It’s safe to say that Jackson knows the music business.

What motivated me to vote for Jessica was the day on American Idol that the fans voted her off the show and the three judges (Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler) leaped up, rushed on stage and used the Judge’s Save to keep her on the show — the judges may only do this once and it has to be a unanimous decision and it may only be used before the top five.  Jessica was voted off at number seven.

At its high point, American Idol had more than 37 million viewers for season six and for this season, eleven , the audience has been almost 22 million so the popularity of the show has waned and we all know what happens to TV shows that lose too much of the audience share. American Idol’s days may be numbered.

For the top Six, Jessica sang “Bohemian Rhapsody” while Joshua sang “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and Elise sang “I Want it All”.  Click on this American Idol link and listen to all the performances from the Top 6.  You will only have to listen to one short commercial before each of the songs.

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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