American Idol Season 17 premiered on ABC with a big bang! Viral singing sensation Malea Emma came to the set and serenaded the judges with a powerful version of the US National Anthem. The three judges, Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan all stood up, curious to hear her voice, while Ryan Seacrest stands to the side, all waiting for what was about to happen. The judges’ jaws all dropped when Malea started to sing.
Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja first came to the public eye when she sang the US National Anthem at a Major League Soccer game with the LA Galaxy playing against Seattle Sounders last September 2018. She won the #GalaxySocial Day Instagram Anthem contest, where she beat out hundreds of applicants to sing the US National Anthem before the game. Everybody was shocked at the mighty voice that came out of this little girl. Did we mention Malea is only 7 years old? LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimovic said Malea was the true MVP of that day’s game.
Her mighty performance caught the attention of so many people, including Ryan Seacrest after he watched her interview with David Muir of ABC World News that day. He invited her on his show, On Air with Ryan Seacrest, last September but he didn’t stop at that. He called the American Idol producers and told them she needed to be on the show because she was definitely “an American Idol”.
They flew her and her parents to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho on Oct. 14 to sign before the judges, who were just floored with her performance. She performed her signature singing style of the US National Anthem. “You made Ryan cry!” Katy Perry told her after she finished singing. And Luke Bryan told the other judges, “We’re getting outsung by a seven-year-old!” She also performed Aretha Franklin’s “Think” in front of the judges. The judges gave her a Golden Ticket to Hollywood to be used in 2027 when she turns 15.
She also went live on Good Morning America last Oct. 2, 2018, where hosts Michael Strahan and Sara Haines interviewed Malea about her experience. They also talked about the time when Jennifer Holliday sent her a private message admiring her performance of “And I’m Telling You”. Malea said it was a dream come true because Jennifer is one of her singing idols. The audience was in for a treat when, during Malea’s performance of “And I’m Telling You”, none other than Jennifer Holliday came out to perform with Malea! What a dream come true!
But the producers weren’t done yet. When they found out that Christina Aguilera is one of Malea’s idols, they and Christina surprised her with one last gift. Christina gave her concert tickets for her and her family to catch her show the next night plus backstage passes so Christina can meet her! This little lady was in heaven.
Currently, Malea is scheduled to perform in several events until November, including for the Los Angeles Clippers game at the Staples Center, Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk in Manhattan Beach, SEMA Show Industry Awards Banquet in Las Vegas, and at a Los Angeles Lakers game at the Staples Center. This girl is only 7 years old and she’s already fulfilling her dreams of becoming a performing singer!