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Tracking Jessica Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Apr 14 2012 12:00 PM

Jessica Sanchez, 16, has been singing since she was 2 years old and said that prior to “Idol,” she received no vocal coaching.

“I’ve never had any vocal training,” Jessica said. “I’ve learned it here with hard work.”

Jessica is the youngest contestant of eight left this season, including four girls and four guys.

She made it to the top seven last week when she sang Whitney Houston’s 1986 hit “How Will I Know.”

Jessica said she loves singing Whitney Houston songs — a natural match for her with the powerhouse vocals.

Since being on the show and in the top 11, Jessica has received standing ovations from judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler on more than one occasion.

Still, Jessica says she tries to not let the praise overwhelm her and does her best to remain humble.

 “I just love being here,” she said. “I see myself improving tremendously. It (the show) lets me learn different techniques.”

Jessica said she’s always wanted to try out for “American Idol,” but was waiting for the right time.

“I feel like every year I’ve been ready,” she said. “Now I really, really feel like I have to prepare myself for this moment.”

Jessica’s family, which lives in Chula Vista, drives up to L.A. each week to watch her perform.

Her first performance was at age 7 in San Diego.

Although she has a commanding presence on stage, Jessica said she is much different when she’s not performing.

“I’m really soft spoken and quiet,” she said. “I keep to myself.”

When asked about a typical day, Jessica said there’s no such thing on “American Idol.”

“Every day is different,” she said. “It’s madness every day but it’s exciting every day.”

Jessica said she’s known all her life that music is what she’s wanted to do.

As far as what makes her different, Jessica says it’s her musical style.

“I think I’m more into urban pop and R&B,” she said.

Jessica said her favorite idol contestant is Jennifer Hudson.

“I love Jennifer Hudson so much,” Jessica said. “She’s an amazing person and vocalist.”

Jessica was being home schooled prior to trying out for “American Idol” since she was busy with music and took choir at Eastlake Middle School while in the eighth grade.

Jessica said that all the contestants are like one big family.

“My competition is everybody, but Josh and Hollie I think are my fiercest competitors,” she said.

Despite her enthusiasm, Jessica said she still gets nervous when she walks on stage to perform.

“When I go on stage I shake,” she said. “It’s crazy, but once the music starts it just naturally just goes away and I’m like a different person.”

Jessica said as far as signing a deal, the label doesn’t matter to her.

“As long as we can make an album,” she said.

“This is of course for me because it’s always been my dream, and for my family financially because they’ve given me so much and I feel like I need to give them even more support,” she said.

As of Tuesday, Jessica had more than 117,600 followers on Twitter.

They include celebrities too, such as “American Idol” finalists Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson as well as Chula Vista native TV talk show host Mario Lopez.

“If I win “American Idol” then my dreams will have come true,” Jessica said. “This is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life and it’s everything that I’ve dreamed of.”

To see a related video click here.

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