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Mercado likens her “Idol” run to Civil Rights Movement

May 7, 2008

mercado.jpgThere’s no question that Syesha Mercado is one tough “American Idol” contestant.

Week after week, the 21-year-old beauty from Sarasota, Florida, has stepped up her game, delivering performances in recent episodes that many thought she wasn’t capable of. Now, despite having been among the lowest three vote-getters a whopping five times, Mercado is the only woman to have made it to the show’s Top 4.

For making it this, Mercado certainly deserves a lot of credit. On Tuesday night’s episode, judge Randy Jackson singled out the TV commercial actress after her performance of “Proud Mary” for “showing the heat late in the competition when you need it.”

Paula Abdul, meanwhile, told Mercado: “You started this competiton as a pretty girl with a big voice, and you turned into this beautiful woman with a magnetic voice and presence.”

Still, it was more than a little strange when, just before singing her second song of the evening, Mercado appeared to liken her run on “Idol” to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

In a pre-taped interview shown before her performance of “A Change is Gonna Come,” Mercado explained why she chose the song by legendary R&B singer Sam Cooke.

“It was released after his death in 1965 during the Civil Rights Movement, which was a very pivotal time in history. And now I’m singing it during a pivotal time in my life — Top 4, amazing experience… I’m just so thankful to still be here and this song just took on a totally different meaning for me.”

Later, Mercado broke down in tears after judge Randy Jackson said he hadn’t liked her performance, while Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell both praised her singing.

Choking back tears, she explained again that the song meant a lot to her, again referencing its links with the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

“I just couldn’t stop crying, because I feel like I’ve changed a lot,” Mercado said.

Then, as she wiped the streams of tears off her face, Mercado suddenly snapped back to the harsh reality of live TV: “I probably look like crap right now,” she said.

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