Jackson’s Gianna Isabella sings way into American Idol top 14
Jackson's Gianna Isabella advanced to the final 14 contestants on Fox's "American Idol."
The Jackson Memorial High School sophomore performed with season 14 champ Nick Fradiani Thursday as "Idol" celebrated its 17th and final season by bringing back former champions.
The 15-year-old said in her taped feature that she tried to remain "calm and collected and professional" despite her inner fangirl thinking Fradiani was "cute."
Fradiani shared his experience on the show and told Isabella that "when I stopped treating it like a crazy competition and I was just, like, 'I should just have fun because that's what music has been to me,' it makes it a lot easier."
The judges seemed to like their performance of Fradiani's hit "Beautiful Life." Keith Urban said it was "good" while Jennifer Lopez said it was "the perfect song" that brought together her youth and his experience in a way the audience could enjoy.
Harry Connick Jr. said that he is still trying to figure her out.
"There's a mysterious quality about you. I can't figure out if you're this goofy young kid ..." Connick started to say before Isabella interrupted and said she's "a little bit of both." Connick said she has a "special gift" with her "incredible voice."
Michele Amabile, who covers American Idol for Billboard magazine, said Isabella "did everything right tonight. She worked well with Nick, and brought the necessary joy that the song requires. For being so young, she held her own. She was also wise to go play off the audience. That kind of energy on the Idol stage — coupled with confidence — is a big positive. She also has a like ability factor that will help with votes down the line!"
Isabella, the daughter of Brenda K. Starr, also revealed that it was her mother who encouraged her to audition for Idol because the Jackson Memorial sophomore had grown tried of past rejections.
I was at a point where I kind of wanted to give up, but my mom said, 'Don't give up. You have this amazing gift. Just try it, see if you like it,' and I love it!" Isabella said. "Look where I am now."
Isabella gets a week off as rhe next group of 12 contestants will perform on next week's show. The judges will eliminate another five contestants to select the final 14 who will perform live on the show for the first time on Feb. 24.
Isabella joined New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea in the studio last month: