Jersey’s next Jax? NJ’s Gianna Isabella wows American Idol judges (WATCH)
Move over, Jax. New Jersey may be getting another homegrown talent to root for on Fox's American Idol.
The audition of Gianna Isabella, 15, of Jackson aired Wednesday night as the show began its 16th and final season. She earned a ticket to Hollywood for her performance of "House of the Rising Son."
Bud McCormick, the band director at Jackson Memorial High School, said she is a sophomore and sang the National Anthem before one of the football team's games last fall, and said her performance "really impressed a lot of people."
Isabella is the daughter of singer Brenda K. Starr, who had the hit "I Still Believe," which included backing vocals from another "Idol" alum — former judge Mariah Carey — before Carey started her own career.
"I'm very inspired by my mom. I would have to say she's my idol so I just want to show her that all her hard work teaching is paying off," Isabella said during her audition segment." I just want to show her how proud I am to be her daughter."
Starr broke down in tears in a video feature, in which she called Isabella "the best thing that ever happened to me."
Current judge Jennifer Lopez remembered attending the same dance studio in New York with Starr, and greeted Starr with a warm hug when she came into the room at the end of Isabella's audition. Keith Urban sat Starr down in his seat at the judge's desk as she talked about how hard Isabella has worked, and handed her the golden ticket to Hollywood.
"I got four yeses if you count my mom," Isabella said after the audition.
American Idol is in the audition phase of the show and will begin the live Hollywood rounds in February. The show will embrace its past with appearance by past contestants and judges.