Anoop Desai, born on December 20, 1986, is one of the finalists of the eighth season of American Idol. Born to Indian parents, he was first known for his singing prowess during his stint at the East Chapel Hill High School; there, he founded the a capella group Chiefs of Staff. This led to him being awarded a scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He holds the distinction of being the first high school senior to be admitted to the UNC Clef Hangers, the university’s prestigious male a capella group; he also served as the group’s music director and president. He eventually graduated with double degrees in political science and American studies in 2008, before pursuing postgraduate studies in cultural anthropology.
Desai became well known for his stint on American Idol, which he joined through auditions held in Kansas City, Missouri. He was later chosen as one of the show’s Top 36, and performed with the first batch of semifinalists; he was, however, narrowly eliminated later that week. He was later selected as one of eight eliminated contestants who were given the chance to join the Wild Card round. He was one of four contestants who won that round; his selection marked the first time that the show had sent thirteen finalists to the finals, rather than the usual twelve.
Despite having a devoted fan base, because of his vocal ability and his on-stage charm, Desai has had difficulty with his performances on the show. His performances during the semifinal round and Michael Jackson week was panned by judges, although his other performances—notably in Grand Ole Opry week—was highly applauded.
2/17: “Angel of Mine” by Monica
3/5: “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown
3/10: “Beat It” by Michael Jackson
3/17: “Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson