A star is rising for one local talent whose proven she has the chops to be seen and heard in Hollywood.
New Iberia native Saasha Small was heard singing by millions who tuned in Monday night to “American Idol” to see her talent get recognized by celebrity judges.
“I was in the gym yesterday and someone said, ‘You’re that girl from the news. You’re on ‘American Idol.’ Do you do autographs?’ ” Small said.
“I said, ‘Well ... I could.’ But you just don’t expect that. I expected things to be just normal.”
The added attention is something the young woman who goes by the stage name “Aname Rose” probably will get accustomed to as her career soars. Although how far she advances in the competition is something she can’t reveal, it is certain there will be more “American Idol” appearances to come.
“You get to Hollywood and the process takes about two weeks,” Small said.
Small, the daughter Kenyatta and Sheree Small of New Iberia, won the right to advance to the Hollywood round of competition by competing in a KATC-TV-sponsored competition that earned her a right to first go before executive producers and then meet the celebrity judges.
The Loyola University music major described what it was like to meet Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.
“They’re really just funny. They joke around a lot. They take it seriously but you can just tell it’s something they really love to do,” she said.
The journey has come with a growing experience for Small after some criticism received from celebrity Judge Richie.
“He basically felt like there was more that I could learn and that I needed more experience,” Small said.
After those comments were made during tryouts, Small returned home and begin to sing for nonprofit organizations and other groups. She said she honed her skills in time to make it to Hollywood two months later for some better news.
“I can’t say which performance it was yet but it was what I think was my best. They (the judges) just looked happy — like they just saw a great performance,” Small said.
“You have to read facial expressions because they don’t give a lot of feedback,” she said.
Small’s gift is something her father noticed that developed as quickly as her ability to walk.
“She was about 2 or 3 years old. My husband said, ‘Baby I think that Saasha can actually sing,’ and I said, Yeah, right,” Saasha’s mother said.
Later, the mother said she was convinced of her daughter’s talent after her performance in a Black History Month program in second grade in which she impressed her teachers and fellow students.
Sheree Small said she’s glad her daughter, who graduated from New Iberia Senior High School in 2017, has gained full confidence and recognition in her ability.
“It was awesome. I am so proud of her that she’s gotten to this level that she’s been striving for through all her singing career,” she said. “To actually see her on TV is phenomenal.”
And as with many families, there usually is someone to make sure the rising star’s feet stay firmly planted on the ground.
“I guess it’s good,” Small’s 12 -year-old brother, Kyson, said.
“I’ve heard people say she’s a good singer. I don’t pay attention to my sister much,” he said.
“Oh, he’s just nonchalant. He’s proud of his sister. He’s just being a little brother,” Sheree Small said with a laugh.
The next time audiences get to see Aname Rose sing before the judges is Sunday night. “American Idol” airs at 7 p.m. Sundays and at 7 p.m. Mondays on ABC.