Voters tonight could put Sonenclar in the finals
(Carly arrives for last week’s “X Factor” viewing party. Tonight’s semi-finals will determine which three acts head to next Thursday’s final of the Fox singing competition. Photo by Ray Mickshaw/FOX.)
She started out as contestant 708987 at her audition, but tonight, Mamaroneck 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar could take a huge step to being No. 1 on “The X Factor.”
If the Rye Neck Middle School eighth-grader gets the backing of voters after tonight’s show, she will be one of three acts to sing in the finale of the Fox TV competition, whose winner, to be announced Dec. 20, earns a $5 million recording contract.
Sonenclar was a Broadway baby in “Les Miserables” at the tender age of 7 and appeared on “The Electric Company” on PBS, but in September she widened her audience by a factor of X, becoming a front-runner on the reality show and earning fans from Belgium to Brazil and in between.
“It’s crazy,” Sonenclar said in a phone interview this week. “It’s just something I’ll never be able to wrap my mind around.”
It’ll take the votes of all of her fans — who unite under the Twitter hashtag #CarlysAngels — to land her in the finale with two of the other remaining acts: last week’s No. 1 Tate Stevens, the boy band Emblem3 or the girl group Fifth Harmony.
(Follow all things Carly on Twitter tonight at #CarlyHasTheXFactor, one of the day’s hottest-trending hashtags.)
It was as pretty heady day for Sonenclar: The iconic Julie Andrews took to Facebook to ask her fans to vote for her.
Sonenclar has flip-flopped with the country-singing Stevens atop the rankings in recent weeks. Last week, her renditions of Justin Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me” and Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” put her in second place, relinquishing the top spot she held for two weeks.
(“Feeling Good” at her audition.)
She has wowed judges and voters since her audition in Providence, R.I., when she sang Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and was deemed a “little diva” by judge Britney Spears. The usually crusty Simon Cowell was incredulous at the time, when the pint-sized teen gave the song more soul than anyone had a reason to expect.
“That’s not you singing,” Cowell said, smiling. “Somebody is behind you, behind the screen, singing that song.”
“I promise, I promise,” Sonenclar pleaded, through a big grin.
Since September, the YouTube video of her audition has been viewed nearly 20 million times. Her Twitter following (@CarlyRoseMusic), which was 96 in August, is now nearing a half-million.
From her audition to tonight’s semifinal, Sonenclar has put on the most consistent string of performances, some of which have begun with no accompaniment, demonstrating her clear voice, control and effortless phrasing.
Among the highest of high points — performances the singer said she considers closest to her artistic goal of bringing soul to pop music — are her “Feeling Good” audition, her spin on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and last week’s acoustic cover of Bieber’s “As Long As You Love Me,” a song judge Demi Lovato called better than the original.
It comes down to her two performances tonight, which could make her a finalist, or send her home.
Sonenclar has been getting all the right kind of attention. Last week, “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks tweeted “Three words: Carly. Rose. Sonenclar.”
“That was amazing,” Sonenclar said. “She’s one of the best vocalists ever, I think.”
The singer has heard from other bold-faced names, too: Victoria Justice, Kim Kardashian, and will.i.am, who was on hand in Malibu and helped Spears make the call to send Sonenclar to the final 16.
(Singing for Britney Spears and will.i.am at Spears’ Malibu home. Photo by Ray Mickshaw/FOX.)
After seeing Sonenclar perform Karmin’s “Brokenhearted,” the Black Eyed Peas frontman declared: “She’s like a little caterpillar. And then you think she’s going to turn into a butterfly? Dragon. Scorching the town.”
Still, she’s 13 and admits to being tongue-tied when superstar Alicia Keys met with the contestants backstage.
“She was coming down the line, asking us our names and I was in shock,” she said. “I couldn’t even speak, I was so star-struck.”
Now, she has that effect on people.
“That’s the crazy thing, when people are like that when they talk to me,” she said.
Her success is no surprise to her friends and fans, some of whom have gathered regularly for viewing parties followed by finger-flying voting marathons. Viewers can vote as many times as they wish, by smartphone app, text, phone or online at www.xfactorusa.
Sonenclar’s piano teacher, Doris Hernacki of White Plains, said she has voted for her student of five years “at least a hundred times a week.”
“You vote by phone and just keep hitting redial,” Hernacki said. “You can make a lot of phone calls in a minute.”
Kate Shindle, who was Miss America 1998 and appeared with Sonenclar two years ago in “Wonderland” on Broadway, said, “I’m totally fan-girling this girl I met when she was 11 years old.”
Shindle said the success is well-deserved.
“The freaky thing about Carly is that — as much as I am insanely jealous of her singing talent because it’s so natural and so prodigious — she’s also one of those people that you can’t help being happy for. Because, I’ll tell you what, there are some crazy show kids in our business. I don’t know what her parents have done to make sure she remains a normal, balanced, humble, approachable kid, but they’ve done a great job.”
Shindle laughs when she considers how mild-mannered and modest her former co-star is, alongside fellow contestants with more outsized personalities.
“I thought it was hilarious that Carly’s big back story is that she misses her brother,” Shindle added. “Meanwhile, everybody else is pulling out every trick in the book to make them sympathetic to voters. And Carly is just getting up there and killing it vocally.”
Janet Dacal, who played Sonenclar’s mother in “Wonderland,” said: “Carly has got my vote for a lifetime.”
(Singing Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” last week. Photo by Ray Mickshaw/FOX.)
Throughout the four-month competition, Sonenclar has endured an unrelenting crush of media, including one interviewer who asked: “Are you and (One Direction’s) Harry Styles official yet?” (Soneclar’s response: “Oh my goodness!”)
She also has learned to rest her voice, using a dry-erase board to communicate whenever possible, drinking Throat Coat tea and popping Grethers Black Currant pastilles to save her voice.
Being in Los Angeles, she said, makes her feel “close to the action.”
“In New York, it’s still awesome and exciting, but here, everything’s happening really quickly,” she said.
It’s happening so quickly that, if all goes well tonight, there’s just one more week to go.