Why This Standout ‘American Idol’ Contestant Deserves Your Attention

It’s hard to believe that American Idol contestant Jurnee is only 18 years old. She’s already made a huge impact on the show in the weeks leading up to these pivotal final performances with a voice that sounds well beyond her years, and she doesn’t seem like she’s slowing down anytime soon.

The Colorado native said she started singing at age two and songwriting at age seven prior to her initial audition. She told the cameras about coming to terms with who she is as a person, and how music helped her through those uncertain young years, and that she’s now happily married to her wife Ashley. Ashley, according to Jurnee, is a soldier who’s about to be deployed, but luckily Ashley’s been able to be present for some of Jurnee’s American Idol journey, as shown in the video below.

Jurnee struck a chord (no pun intended) right off the bat, by singing "Rise Up" by Andra Day for her first performance in front of the judges, pulling off an incredibly big song with ease, and they were impressed to say the least. "Vocal command is just everything to me," judge Lionel Richie told her. "I’ve always marveled at people who can just sit there and make a run, and every note’s perfect going down the run. I’m sitting here amazed.

She’s continued that impressive streak and now finds herself in the Top 14 contestants, looking to continue the success. She’s teamed up with superstar Lea Michele for a duet and taken on songs from The Greatest Showman, putting the power behind her voice to good use.

In an interview with Billboard, Jurnee said she’s been watching American Idol since Season 1, and notes some of her favorite alumni of the show as Jessica Sanchez and Jordin Sparks. She also credits her parents’ music collection with giving her some more classic influences behind the modern ones. “Mom had a lot of Madonna and a lot of Prince. I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson and No Doubt," she said. "Those were the ones that were always in the car on the CD player. My dad listened to a lot of Type O Negative and Metallica and a lot of rock."

It’s clear with every word she says what music means to her. "My mom tells me I was singing before I could talk,” she told the outlet. “I heard music as sounds and colors. I still can’t read music, because I’m better hearing it and seeing colors in my head and making pictures. So my whole life, I’ve been singing and I started writing at seven."

She also revealed in the same interview that this is her second bout with the reality competition show — she previously tried out and was sent home during the group round, so now she’s back with a vengeance.

And, no matter what happens with these next couple rounds of American Idol, it’s clear the impact Jurnee has made with fans and judges alike, signaling that she’ll likely have a bright future ahead of her even if she ends her American Idol journey (again, no pun intended) as a runner-up. Plus, she’s got the support of her wife, whom she told Billboard helped rejuvenate her interest in music. "She helped me find my inspiration and was my muse for a lot of great music. Idol is my first gig in a year or two," she said in the same interview.

People have been tweeting up a storm throughout the singer’s arc on Idol, excited about what she’s bringing to the table. She’s also got a solid fanbase of over 3,000 followers on Twitter already, so she’ll have no shortage of support no matter how this works out — but she also has a really decent chance at winning.

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