How far will Fil-Am Malaya Watson go on ‘American Idol’?

Alexa Villano

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The Fil-Am is currently doing great in the Hollywood auditions stage. Will 'Idol' success be in the cards?

OLD SOUL. Fil-Am Malaya Watson says her soulful performances at a young age make her a great contender for the title. Screengrab from the American Idol YouTube

MANILA, Philippines – Will she follow in Jessica Sanchez’s footsteps?

With Filipino-American Malaya Watson now safely in the top 77 contestants in the Hollywood stage of  American Idol season 13, that’s a possibility. 

In the Hollywood auditions following her initial successful audition in Detroit, Watson, together with 3 other ladies, sang the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” before judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr. 

All three commended the group, with Lopez announcing that they’re all moving to the solo round before the field will be narrowed down to 31 contestants next week.

Watch their performance here:

The road to Idol

A native of Southfield, Michigan, Malaya Watson is part Pinoy, as she confirmed via Twitter.


The 16 year-old high school student sang Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way,” during the Detroit leg of Idol auditions.

Watch her audition here:

Videos from her YouTube channel also show that Watson’s music is full of old-fashioned soul with a modern touch, as demonstrated in her renditions of “Diamonds” by Rihanna and “Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan. Her Vine videos also show Kanye West, Chris Brown, and Beyonce as some of her favorite music icons. 

Listen to her rendition of “Through the Fire” here:

“My musical inspiration comes from three people: my Dad, who was a guitar player. My grandfather who died when I was 7 months, he’s a musical genius. And my other grandfather, who I called Lolo, which means grandfather. He was also a guitar player. That’s where I came from,” Watson explained in her “Road to American Idol” video.

Aside from singing and playing the piano, Watson is active as a member of her high school’s marching band where she plays the tuba.

“This has been my dream all my life since I was a kid,” Watson said when asked why she went for the auditions. “I’ll try to make it come true.”

Watson said she maybe young, but she has what it takes to be an American Idol.

“I’m 16 but I have all this soul. I have this soul and it touches people, gives people quivers and all that. Since I’m young and I have such an old style, that soul, I feel that makes me way unique.”

Watch her full “Road to American Idol” video here:

Early into the 13th season of the reality singing competition, a number of contestants have already stood out.

Spencer Lloyd, for example, landed a ticket to Hollywood, not only for his voice, but for his good looks as well. So far, his videos on the American Idol YouTube have been several of the most viewed. His audition video has gotten over 140,000 hits.

Kenzie Hall’s sweet vocals mixed with rap has also intrigued viewers, earning over 80,000 views.


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Alexa Villano

Alexa is one of Rappler's Lifestyle and Entertainment reporters, covering local entertainment news to a wide range of topics from beauty pageants to reality shows.