At 17, Sanjaya Malakar became known for being the youngest of the twelve male semifinalists in American Idol
, season 6. He hails from Federal Way, Washington, but stayed in Hawaii for four years in order to perform with the Hawaii Children's Theater. He auditioned in Seattle with his older sister, and although both of them got golden tickets, only Sanjaya made it to the Top 24. His greatest struggle has been overcoming his shyness. Apart from singing, Sanjaya has also dabbled in the culinary arts. Because of Simon's brutal honesty, Sanjaya has taken a liking to the British American Idol Judge. His musical inspirations are Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Susan Tedeschi and Lauryn Hill.
Arguably the most talked about American Idol season 6 contestant, Sanjaya Malakar gained national attention when he advanced to the 7th place with public votes, despite being badly received by the show's judges, particularly Simon Cowell
. Aside from his longer than expected stay on the competition, he also became controversial with his strikingly peculiar fauxhawk made from multiple ponytails, which he wore during his performance of No Doubt's "Bathwater"
After much contemplation, the Federal Way City Council honored Sanjaya Malakar, praising him for his positive attitude and enthusiastic pursuit of his dreams, and was also given recognition at Seattle Center in Seattle, Washington.
Though life wasn't as controversial as it was during his stint on American Idol, Sanjaya Malakar lingered on the spotlight with his after-show appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Access Hollywood, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Live with Regis and Kelly, The Ellen DeGeneres Show
, and The Late Show with David Letterman, just to name a few.
American Idol Finals performances:
Week 1: Diana Ross - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Week 2: British Invasion - "You Really Got Me" (The Kinks)
Week 3: Gwen Stefani - "Bathwater" (No Doubt)
Week 4 - American Classics / Tony Bennett - "Cheek to Cheek" (Fred Astaire)
Week 5: Latin - "Bésame Mucho" (Consuelo Velázquez)
Week 6: Country - "Something to Talk About" (Bonnie Raitt)
Sanjaya has since competed on another reality series, NBC’s I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here and was nicknamed Jungle Boy. Later on, he worked as a singer for Pagliacci Pizza and joined the off-Broadway musical Freckleface Strawberry at New World Stages. In 2011, he toured the country with the band, The Brave Chandeliers and released the single Tempted.
(Photos courtesy of AmericanIdol.com)