MANILA, Philippines – Marlisa Punzalan’s journey in the X-Factor Australia is special: she was the youngest contestant ever to enter the show, at 14 years old. She turned 15 while the show was ongoing, taking task after task, week after week under the mentorship of judge Ronan Keating.
Now, Marlisa has been crowned the winner, beating out Dean Ray and Brothers3.
This is the end of X Factor: Australia, but the beginning of Marlisa’s career.
In her audition for the show, Marlisa wowed the 4 judges – LMFAO’s Redfoo, Natalie Bassingthwaighte, Dannii Minogue, and Ronan Keating, when she sang the Beatles song “Yesterday.”
“That is the biggest voice I have ever heard for a 14-year-old,” Redfoo said after hearing her sing.
“You sing from the heart and you have the voice of an angel,” Danni added.
Ronan said he was touched by her voice.
“You moved me with that performance beyond anything I have seen on that stage in 5 years. It was incredible,” he said, which would earn Marlisa 4 yeses to go on to the boot camp.
Watch Marlisa’s audition video here:
In the beginning of the show, Ronan, who would become Marlisa’s mentor. He previously said he was worried for her, especially the first few weeks.
“The youngest contestant in the whole show. Fourteen years of age …I am scared, really scared,” he said during an interview. (READ: Will Filipino singer Marlisa Punzalan be ‘X Factor: Australia’ winner?)
Marlisa, who grew up in Sydney, described herself as a very shy girl.
“I’m quite shy. I don’t speak that much. I think being shy is natural for me. My dream is to really be confident just like other girls,” she said during her auditions.
In an interview with The Philippine Star, Marlisa shared her experience singing with Jose Mari Chan, who was amazed by her voice. She soon found herself singing with other Filipino artists such as Aegis and Sharon Cuenta during their concerts in Australia.
At a young age, Marlisa has already shown her talent for music. According to the biography on her website, she first performed at the Australian International Conservatorium of Music (now Australian Academy of Music and Performing Arts) in 2003.
In 2005, she performed at the Glenfield Home for the Aged. In 2011, she had her first solo concert entitled Marlisa and Friends. She also sang solo at the Norman Mitchell Comedy show in May 2012.
According to the same report from the Star, Marlisa’s parents are both from Bataan. They eventually moved to Australia, where Marlisa grew up.
With her family’s support, as well as cheers from her newfound fans, Marlisa proved week after week that someone as young as she was had what it took to win.
Many of the songs she sang in the show challenged her vocally. Let’s take a look:
Boot Camp: “Never Be The Same”
Home visit: Performing in front of John Legend
She also performed before Grammy Award winner John Legend, when she sang the song “I’ll Stand by You,” during the Home Visit episode.
John shared his sentiments about Marlisa’s performance.
“When you look at her, you can tell that she’s still young. But the vocal, the performance is beyond her years,” he told Ronan.
Week 1: “All by Myself”
Week 2: “Paparazzi”
Week 3: “Hopelessly Devoted To You”
Week 4: “It’s Oh So Quiet”
Week 5: “Let It Go”
Week 6: “Nothing Else Matters”
Week 7: “Try”
Week 8: “Super Love”
Week 9: “Titanium”
Week 9 Curveball: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
Week 10: “Girl on Fire”
During the battle for the final spot, Marlisa sang “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys and “Impossible.” The judges could not help but praise her.
“You are on fire, yes you are!” Danni said after listening to her rendition of the Alicia Keys song.
“Not only have you stepped into your voice and your confidence, but you’re mastering those runs and you’re singing the biggest songs around. So congratulations to you and to Ronan [Keating].”
Natalie also said that Marlisa knows how to take criticism well form the judges.
“One thing I can say is you getting up here and getting constructive criticisms like Danni said, which we all do and you all get each and every week, you handle yourself so incredible well.
“And I’m super proud of that,” she said.
Week 10 song 2: “Impossible”
But despite the improvement, Marlisa saw herself in the bottom two with Redfoo’s protege Reigan Derry. She eventually got the last spot.
Before the finale
Before the grand finale, she performed in her hometown in western Australia, where people gave her a warm homecoming, according to a report from GMA News.
Ronan, who accompanied Marlisa in her hometown saw for himself the warm welcome given to Marlisa.
According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, Marlisa said she did not expect to enter the finals, where she beat out Reigan Derry for the last spot.
“No way in a billion years did I expect this much, and I’m really grateful I got this far,” she said.
In the same interview, Marlisa said she hopes to follow the path of former Australian Idol contestant Jessica Mauboy.
“She’s my inspiration, she is really cool and I think could head towards her style. I just really want to be someone big, like Celine Dion.”
And she indeed found herself performing with Jessica on Sunday night, when they sang together “Never Be The Same.”
See Marlisa’s performances at the grand finale:
On Monday, October 20, Marlisa made it to the Top 2 along with Dean Ray. For her final song, she sang “Titanium.”
Final 2 Duet
Her final performance was the key as she was declared the season winner of X-Factor Australia by a small margin.
“It’s only taken me five years!” Ronan said after Marlisa was declared the winner.
In Marlisa Punzalan, a new star is born.– Rappler.com