Are you listening, Indian country?
On Thursday night, 20-year-old Aranesa Turner was selected by the American Idol judges to receive a so-called "Golden Ticket" — a trip to Hollywood to compete against other hopefuls on the long-running entertainment contest.
Aranesa is a member of the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians. As she explained on Twitter, her mother was born and raised on the Big Valley Rancheria reservation, and her father is African American. She is believed to be the second Native American to be selected for the main competition of American Idol (Charly Lowry, Lumbee, now of the band Dark Water Rising, was a contestant on season 3 in 2004 — ICTMN thanks the reader who gave us the tip in the comments section below). Prior to embarking on her American Idol journey, Aranesa attended Northwest Indian College.
In an interview after the audition, Aranesa revealed that Idol judge Jennifer Lopez paid her two huge compliments, first comparing her to the late singer Aaliyah, and then calling her "Little Aretha" — as in Aretha Franklin. An American Idol recapper for Yahoo TV agreed that Aranesa was among the top prospects, and cited a not-so-secret weapon: "It has to be said, the girl is so ridiculously stunning that she rivals even J.Lo in the beauty department."
Here's Aranesa's American Idol interview:
Aranesa's performance is included in the American Idol highlight video below — it's at the 13:22 mark: