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Smooth ride for Jessica Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Jul 28 2012 12:00 PM

Life before American Idol was boring, Jessica Sanchez said Thursday in the “Player’s Lounge” of the Valley View Casino Center.

Being home-schooled, she had more time on her hands—something most public school students would be envious of.

“I would go to bed at 2 a.m., wake up at noon and play video games,” she said.

How significantly things have changed.

Today, Jessica, 16, wakes up early and responds frequently to her more than 750,000 Twitter fans.

On Thursday, four hours before the American Idol concert, Jessica walked over and introduced herself during media interviews.

Wearing no make-up, with her hair in a bun, sporting a loose tank top and hoodie, it wasn’t the same Jessica Sanchez seen on TV. In fact, she looked exactly like the self-proclaimed tomboy she is.

When asked about all the attention since the show, she said “it’s weird.”

“I never expected it to be like this.”

Jessica said that during her last homecoming in May she made trips to the Otay Ranch Town Center and the Plaza Bonita mall.

“I was walking around with my sunglasses on and no makeup,” she said. “People still recognized me.”

Even though it’s a drastic change from the life she once lived, Jessica said she loves it more than anything she’s ever experienced.

Signing autographs for infatuated fans, performing live across the nation in 45 cities and getting dolled up more often than not is now a reality that she has embraced.

San Diego was the tour's fourteenth concert since it began in Detroit July 6. The last show ends Sept. 11.

Jessica admitted she sometimes still gets nervous prior to going on stage.

“But when I step on that stage, all my nerves go away,” she said. “It makes me feel safe.”

Jessica said it’s been fun to travel with friends who share the same passion she does.

Perhaps it’s been more special with one person in particular.

Jessica talked about her public relationship with tour buddy DeAndre Brackensick.

“It kind of happened during tour rehearsals,” she said. “We had to keep it a secret for a little bit.”

She said it’s been fun to do the tour together.

“I love being able to not feel like I’m being judged” she said. “It’s awesome to see each other succeed.”

Jessica said performing at the Valley View Casino Center, formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena, is special because it’s where at age 12 she saw her first concert.

“Ever since I was little I’ve dreamt of singing on stage in front of a crowd like this,” she said.

Jessica stuck mostly to ballads on the show, which either showed off her larger than life voice or the ability to control it.”

But on Thursday night, Jessica sang more soulful songs, including Beyonce’s “Best Thing I Never Had,” Prince’s “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary.”

She said the Idol tour has been an opportunity to show who she really is.

“It’s about letting each individual be who they are,” Jessica said. “Singing ballads were my competition side.”

Jessica said despite the craziness of the tour she feels in control.

“Everything has been a smooth ride,” she said. “Knock on wood.”

Jessica’s upcoming debut album is due out in November on Interscope records.

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