'American Idol' down to final 2 singers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

'American Idol' down to final 2 singers

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This image provided by FOX-TV shows American Idol finalists Phillip Phillips, left and Jessica Sanchez taken May 17, 2012. This image provided by FOX-TV shows American Idol finalists Phillip Phillips, left and Jessica Sanchez taken May 17, 2012.

CHULA VISTA (CNS) - A petite 16-year-old Chula Vista girl with the huge voice may be less than a week away from becoming the next "American Idol."

Jessica Sanchez beat out tens of thousands of hopefuls who auditioned nationwide for the 11th season of the popular Fox TV program, including an estimated 9,000 who jammed Petco Park last July. In October, a vetted crowd was invited to sing for celebrity judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler aboard the USS Midway Museum.

"Idol" host Ryan Seacrest announced Thursday night that viewers selected Sanchez and 21-year-old Phillip Phillips, Jr. of Leesburg, Ga., to be the last two contestants in the competition. Her finalist status appeared to bring Sanchez both shock and joy.

"Being in the position I'm in now is more than I could have ever asked for," she said in a statement. "I've been looking forward to auditioning for 'American Idol' ever since the first season ... It's crazy what you can do when you put your mind and heart to it! I don't know what could be better than this."

Until this season, Sanchez was ineligible to compete on "American Idol" because the minimum age restriction for contestants is 16. She was about 5 when the show started and is now the youngest contestant in "Idol" history to become one of two finalists. If she wins, she will be the first female singer to win since Jordin Sparks won in 2007, when she was 17.

Based on viewer votes, Sanchez almost went home a few weeks ago, but the judges used their one save to veto the viewers' vote and keep her in the contest.

Sanchez, a home-schooled high school junior, is the second recent contestant from San Diego County to make it deep into the "Idol" competition.

Adam Lambert, who graduated from Mt. Carmel High School in Rancho Penasquitos, rocked his way to a runner-up finish three years ago.

A two-night season finale of "Idol" is scheduled to air Tuesday and Wednesday on Fox. The winner receives a $1 million recording contract.

This is a story update. A previous story is below.


LOS ANGELES (AP) — "American Idol" finalist Joshua Ledet won't be belting it out on this season's final showdown.

The booming 20-year-old vocal powerhouse from Westlake, La., was revealed Thursday to have received the fewest viewer votes on the Fox talent contest, leaving bluesy 21-year-old crooner Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Ga., and sassy 16-year-old budding diva Jessica Sanchez of San Diego to compete for the show's record deal grand prize on next week's finale.

"I just feel that we're all winners at this point," Ledet said before his eviction. "If I end up not making it and my friends make it, I'll be voting for both of them."

Ledet had been one of the judges' favorite finalists, earning more than a dozen standing ovations from the panel for his renditions of such songs as James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" and Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby." However, the gospel singer wasn't able to win over enough voters. He twice appeared as a low vote getter before Thursday's dismissal.

"Idol" host Ryan Seacrest said 90 million viewer votes were cast this week.

Phillips and Sanchez, who sometimes performs as her alter ego "Bebe Chez," will face off Tuesday, with the 11th season "Idol" champion crowned on Wednesday. Phillips has never found himself at the bottom of the voting spectrum, while Sanchez was due to be eliminated during the finals' sixth round, but the judges used their one-time-only power to rescue her from elimination.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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