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Who Is Alyssa Raghu? Details About The American Idol Season 17 Contestant

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Who Is Alyssa Raghu? Details About The American Idol Season 17 Contestant

This isn't her first Idol rodeo.

Alyssa Raghu is gutsy: that much cannot be denied after she performed a stripped-down version of judge Katy Perry’s own 2010 hit, “The One That Got Away.” The song saved her from elimination on Monday night, as Perry opted to send the 17-year-old to the next round after she did not receive enough votes to guarantee her place in the top 10. Perry was stunned by the girl’s performance of her own song.

"First of all, how dare you? How dare you come out and sing that song 100 times better than me? Alyssa, that was so beautiful and you have just grown into a gorgeous young girl."

On Sunday, Raghu, “like the sauce,” belted Sara Bareilles’s “She Used to Be Mine” from the musical Waitress. Her performance made waves in the Broadway community, and blew away judges, but was not enough to convince viewers.

Regardless, Raghu will be moving on to the next round next week along with nine other Idol hopefuls. Perry saved Raghu, Lionel Richie saved Uche, and Luke Bryan saved Dimitrius Graham to join America’s picks, Madison VanDenburg, Walker Burroughs, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Wade Cota, Laci Kay Booth, Laine Hardy, and Alejandro Aranda in this season’s journey to find the next American Idol.

In comparison to her competitors, Raghu is a unique contestant. She has a history with the show, and has made history on it. Below are five details about the young musical powerhouse that has been wowing audiences across America for years.

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1. This is her second time on American Idol.

Alyssa Raghu, along with the cast of American Idol Season 17.

Raghu cannot take “no” for an answer. She was first seen on the show in 2018 during its 16th season. At 15 years old, she auditioned for the show, which changed her life forever.

“I’m a believer in you,” Katy Perry told Raghu after she performed Ariana Grande’s “Almost is Never Enough” during last season’s premiere. Perry predicted Raghu would make it to the top 10.

Raghu’s initial Idol run ended before the top 10: she made it to the top 24, but did not advance to the top 14. She performed a duet with Banners on Coldplay’s “Yellow” and failed to impress judges enough to move on. Perry said Raghu’s stage presence was “a little forgettable.”

After a year of preparation, Raghu returned to audition for season 17. She was determined to make it again and make it far into the competition.

"You told me I had to figure out who I was," she said during her second audition. "I'm Alyssa Raghu and I'm a pop star."

2. She has made Idol history.

Raghu is the first Idol contestant to make it through to the semi-finals two times. She may have narrowly escaped elimination this week, but Raghu has now far surpassed her placement last season. She has made it into the top 10 and will compete for a spot in the top eight on Apr. 22.

3. She’s homeschooled.

Part of Raghu’s preparation for returning to Idol better than ever was to switch to homeschooling. She left Lake Nona High School as a junior to center her focus on her singing career. She explained her drive following her elimination in 2018 when she returned for season 17.

"Since getting eliminated last season, I took everything the judges said to heart because I knew it was important," she said. "I didn't come this far to only come this far."

Her school years have been integral to her career, however--specifically, her educators. She told Central Florida Monthly in 2018 that her elementary school music teacher helped spark her interest in music. She credited her middle school and high school choir directors with helping her hone her singing abilities.

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4. She also enjoys acting.

Singing is not the only activity Raghu enjoys doing on stage. She has acted through her high school’s musical theatre program.

Raghu starred as the lead female, Nina Rosario, in her high school’s performance of Lin Manuel Miranda’s hit musical In The Heights. She was given an Applause Award for her performance in her school’s rendition.

5. She does philanthropic work as well.

A photo from Raghu's first bid on American Idol.

Raghu is the chair of the Global Citizens Committee for the World Heritage Cultural Center.

The World Heritage Cultural Center writes on its about page that “Our Mission is to change Society in a way where people can contribute to what matters most: Humanity. We have created a common ground where any Culture in the World can come and celebrate their way of life through the Arts & Food; while making a positive impact through knowledge & charity.”

Raghu uses her musical talent for performances at fundraisers. She has performed to help hurricane victims in Puerto Rico, children in Guyana, and others. These performances have helped her improve for Idol, as well as give back to her community.


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Alison Cerri is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.

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