syesha-mercado_web.jpgHALLANDALE BEACH — Syesha is her name. Singing her way to the top is her game.

South Florida fans of American Idol finalist Syesha Mercado gathered at the Franks Beach Club at Gulfstream Park to celebrate her success on the popular reality hit show.

Mercado hoped to follow in the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks.

She came close as the second runner up to 2008 American Idol David Cook, and just behind runner up David Archuleta.

But with a name like “Syesha,” it’s not a surprise that American Idol judge Paula Abdul used the “yes” in her name to seal Mercado’s destiny as one of the top 20 contestants of the competition.

“It’s funny because my name is a creation. While in Bridgeport, my mom heard somebody yell out “Iyesha” and she said to herself …‘that’s kind of fancy’ and it then morphed to Syesha,’’ the 21-year-old told The South Florida Times.

“To me, however, I think my name is very unique and creative. I see creativity all over it. That’s what represents me,” she said.

Born on Jan. 2, 1987 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Mercado had always set her sights on becoming a star. She was raised in Sarasota, where she joined the local church choir and performed in school productions. She later relocated to Miami to pursue a degree in theatre at Florida International University.

Auditioning for American Idol halted Mercado’s academic career; however, she knew the opportunity was something she could not pass up.

“I was skeptical about auditioning in the past because it’s a reality show and America’s watching the whole process. I didn’t know if I wanted to take that route again,” Mercado stated.

No stranger to competitions, Mercado was a contestant on ABC’s The One: Making a Music Star in 2006, but the show was quickly canceled due to low ratings. Nevertheless, she felt this time around, with American Idol, she was ready to take that chance again.

Though most of Mercado’s fans believe she should have won the competition, she takes it all in stride.

“It’s a TV show. It will work out the way it’s supposed to work out. Everyone has their opinions on how it should have ended but I couldn’t focus on all that. I just try to stay optimistic about the whole thing,” Mercado stated.

American Idol has produced such amazing talent and success, even for those who don’t win the competition. Don’t be surprised to see Mercado in film, theatre or even on Broadway.

“Broadway is definitely an option. As well as a singer, I’m an actress. I was a theatre major. My ideal role is to have a part in something like The Color Purple or even
Dreamgirls…any old-fashioned movie theme. I’m just going to keep my options open,” Mercado said.

The American Idol Tour kicks off on July 1 in Glendale, Ariz. and runs through September.

Mercado and the top nine contestants will perform live at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise on Aug. 20.

After the 29-state tour, Mercado looks forward to writing and recording more of her music. She patterns her musical style after Christina Aguilera, Fergie and Alicia Keyes.

Photo by Khary Bruyning. Syesha Mercado