Fil-Am Malaya Watson makes it to 'American Idol' top 30 [+video]

Filipina-American student Malaya Watson has made it to the top 30 of American Idol after a rough start in the solo round of the competition.

Malaya Watson - American Idol Season 13
Screen grab from American Idol / Fox
Malaya was singing the Fantasia Barrino hit "I Believe" when judge Harry Connick, Jr. asked her to stop and repeat the song. He thought she was off-key.

After her performance, the 16-year-old tuba player from Detroit, Michigan received a standing ovation from the other judges, Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez.


As she formally faced the panel for their final decision, Malaya corrected Harry for mispronouncing her given name as Maleya.

It's Malaya. It means freedom.

That one proves that she's proud to be Filipina amid criticisms that she doesn't look like one based solely on her physical features.

Harry replied:

I'm glad that you reminded me of the pronunciation of your name because that name has a great potential to be a star at some point. You're gonna be on Top 15. Congratulations! We look forward to seeing you grow.


Announced last Wednesday and Thursday, the following comprise the top 30 American Idol season 13 contestants.

Girls: Jena Asciutto, Andrina Brogden, Kenzie Hall, Jillian Jensen, Bria Anai Johnson, Jessica Meuse, Brandy Neelly, M.K. Nobilette, Kristen O'Connor, Briana Oakley, Emily Piriz, Marrialle Sellers, Austin Wolfe, Malaya Watson, and Majesty Rose York.

Boys: Malcolm Allen, Jordan Brisbane, C.J. Harris, Ethan Harris, Caleb Johnson, Spencer Lloyd, George Lovett, Briston Maroney, Alex Preston, Dexter Roberts, Maurice Townshend, Casey Thrasher, Sam Woolf, and Emmanuel Zidor.

The show added a new twist by allowing the public to vote for the "15th" boy. The announcement as to who among Ben Briley or Neco Starr will be the people's choice takes place February 19.