When singer Tenna Torres sang for Mariah Carey during “American Idol” last week, it wasn’t the first time the two had met. In fact, Torres a scrawny 13-year-old when she was accepted into Camp Mariah and sang for the iconic superstar, making their reunion at the FOX singing competition one of the most memorable moments in the show’s history.
“She is my idol, without a doubt,” says Torres, who was raised and still resides in Queens, New York. “Singing for her again was a dream come true.”
The 28-year-old even presented Carey with pictures from their meeting more than ten years ago and once she began a soulful rendition of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” she drew tears from Carey.
“There have been so many times where I cried listening to Mariah’s music, so to have that kind of response from her was really emotional,” recalls Torres, who sings at local casinos and New York City venues. “I had to watch that moment again on TV to really relieve it because it was just an incredible experience!”
And adding to the magic of that moment is the fact that the golden ticket Torres received for her performance symbolizes a second chance at “American Idol” fame.
The promotional model and brand ambassador actually made it to the top 70 of “American Idol” last year during season 11, and while she loved performing in front of “Idol’ judge Jennifer Lopez, Torres says she’s now fully prepared to beat the competition.
“I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was 5 years old,” says Torres, who attended a high school for the performing arts and studied jazz at Howard University. “I was disappointed last year and it took some convincing from my mom and best friend to audition again. But what’s the worst that could happen? I’ve been performing for years and I’m confident in who I am as an artist.”
And this is one girl who isn’t afraid to show her fellow “Idol” contestants what they’re up against. The singer-songwriter says that she has a likeability that “little girls and their parents” can both relate to and explains that she has the charisma that made Mariah Carey a star.
“I’m not afraid of singing about how I feel and putting myself out there,” says Torres, who is of mixed Puerto Rican and African-American heritage.
That being said, don’t expect Torres to create any drama on “American Idol” with diva-like behavior, the like of which has caused noticeable rifts between Carey and Minaj on set.
“I definitely observed that,” says Torres of a feud between the two pop stars. “In the beginning, it was playful but for two in-demand divas — I don’t think it ever got too crazy.”
“I want to buy my mom a house and help out my community,” says Torres, who confided that she also wants a “ridiculous” Tempur-Pedic mattress (“something I can just sink into,” she explains”).
“If I win ‘American Idol’ I could make a big difference, not just in my life and for my family, but for others as well. I really believe that.”