Syesha Mercado had dreams of one day becoming a singer. Daughter to a former Motown backup singer, Mercado was surrounded by music. So when the chance to audition for American Idol came up, she jumped at it! Since then, the 27-year-old Puerto Rican and African-American star has been on Broadway and is busy in the studio working on her debut album.
Mercado stopped by to talk to us all about what it was like being on American Idol, Broadway, her debut album, and more. But that's not all, she also gave us a first listen at a few tracks (they're amazing!), which we're also sharing with you at the end of this interview.
Check it all out in our exclusive below:
How was your experience on American Idol?
Oh my gosh, it was so incredible! It was a great learning experience, and just to be a finalist and make it that far sometimes, it’s still surreal to me. I just really appreciate it because I was able to go on the road. We did 53 concerts in 49 cities and I was able to connect with the fans after the show, and experience different cultures and different kinds of people. We went to Tampa and all of my friends and all my family came, and for me that was the most rewarding experience, to be able to have my family in the audience. It was awesome!
I’m still kind of shaking from thinking about it because it was so powerful, we would actually have meet and greets after the shows for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. So we were able to connect with those kids, and some of their dying wish was to see us perform live in concert. So just to know that my presence and being apart of that would be impactful to them and life changing really inspired me to create my own foundation.
Amazing! Can you tell us a little bit about your foundation?
Absolutely! I’m in the beginning stages, but I just feel like there is a lot of lack when it comes to people being loving and compassionate. I’m always walking down the street and I see so many people without homes, I see a lot of people with no food, begging for food, and my heart really goes out to them. So my foundation will be not only helpful for people who are inspired to do music, but people who also want to do charitable things. We are going to provide people with shelter and food, so that’s the basic foundation.
That’s really incredible. Okay, going back to the topic of American Idol, in what ways do you feel it’s opened the doors for you?
It's given me a lot of national visibility. Walking into an audition room someone may recognize my face or recognize my work from American Idol. It’s a huge platform for aspiring musicians and singers.
Do you think it helped you on Broadway when you did The Book of Mormon?
Oh definitely, especially in terms of the tools of professionalism and knowing how to conduct myself.
And what was it like being on Broadway?
It was awesome. First of all, I've been dreaming of Broadway since I was a little girl. My mom is a singer and I would follow her around the house singing all the time. I grew up in a bicultural home so I was introduced to Latin music and all types of music at an early age. Being introduced to all of that at an early age really got me excited about performing. I would pick up combs and brushes and pretend that I was preforming for audiences, like hundreds of people, and I would always have this dream that I would be able to do that on the big stage. When I was finally able to do it, it was a dream come true. It was exciting to be able to work with such talented and genius writers. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are comedic geniuses and they really know what they’re doing. Just to be apart of that creative team and them being able to come in and direct me it was just an honor.
Okay, and whom would you say is your biggest inspiration for singing?
First, I would have to say my momma because I grew up listening to her in church and I would watch her with my jaw dropped. I just had this feeling…I cant even describe it sometimes, but I felt it deep in my soul, my heart and I always knew like okay that's what I want to do. I want to make music, I want to perform and do something life changing like that. People were so inspired by her! They would come up to her after her performance and say, “Oh my god you blessed me with that song.” So I would say her first and growing up I would lock myself up in my room and listen to a lot of India Arie, Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill. I listen to a lot of artists like that. Later on, I started listening to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
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