(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – The support Zandriann Maye gave her daughter Jahzan McLaughlin during Sunday night’s audition round of American Idol, was the perfect boost for the 18-year-old Jamaican singer.
Jahzan, who is based in New York City, impressed the judges, including Lionel Richie, with her renditions of Clean Bandit’s Rock-A-Bye Baby and Demi Lovato’s Warrior.
She received a “yes” from all three judges and moved on to Hollywood Week.
“You’re going to Hollywood. Enjoy the experience,” said Ritchie.
It was emotional for mother and daughter as both recounted their struggles, having moved from Kingston three years ago to settle in the “Big Apple”.
“We moved to New York as we bus in the city. Right now we are homeless, so American Idol is basically my opportunity. It’s tough coming over here [America] at age 15 and not knowing where you’re gonna live,” Jahzan told the judges.
Richie and fellow judges, pop star Katy Perry and country music singer Luke Bryan, listened attentively.
“You sound very different and we are here to help you,” said Bryan.
Richie was comforting.
“I like this. And Mom, you’re the rock of everything for this. I want you to understand what a great job you’ve done.”
“Thank you Jesus,” Maye said repeatedly, as tears flowed when she heard the positive reaction from the judges.
“We came here first and foremost for our safety, for reasons I cannot discuss on television. We came over here to escape from that. I live in my uncle’s salon. Nobody even knows about my situation at school, because I don’t want to be looked down on,” Jahzan explained.
“Where did you learn how to sing,” asked Perry.
“My mom; she trained me,” said Jahzan.
Maye, speaking in patois, chimed in: “I stay with her sometimes in the subway, and dance and hype har up and build the vibes.”
Under strict guidelines from ABC- TV and producers of American Idol, neither Maye nor Jahzan are allowed to do interviews with any media.
The 42-year-old Maye is from Kendal, Hanover. She attended Rusea’s High School and got involved in the arts at an early age. Relocating to Kingston at age16, she later did a two-year stint with creative dance ensemble Ashe. She also attended the Cultural Training Centre (now known as Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts).
Maye acted in plays such as Hot Spot and Jamaica to Rahtid Pupalick. She won an Actor Boy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the latter, and taught dance at Jessie Ripoll Primary School in Kingston.
Jahzan, who is a former student at Queens’ Preparatory, was involved in that school’s arts programme.