Carly Rose Sonenclar finds stardom on 'X Factor'
It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life -- and Carly Rose Sonenclar is feeling good.
Thanks to her stirring rendition of the Nina Simone classic, the Mamaroneck teen is arguably the most popular competitor on Fox's reality TV competition, "The X Factor." Not only did her performance bring all four judges to their feet for their first standing ovation of the season, but Sonenclar has also become an online sensation: the clip of her audition on the show's YouTube page has received nearly 8 million page views to date.
Sonenclar, who heads into "X Factor's" Boot Camp round Wednesday night, is better equipped than most to deal with her sudden fame. She started singing at age 2 and began her entertainment career in 2006, landing roles in movies, TV shows and Broadway productions. In an interview with Newsday Westchester, she talked about why she chose "Feeling Good" for her audition, how she's prepared for the show and what she envisions for her future.
"I thought ["Feeling Good"] sounded like a song that crescendos," Sonenclar said of choosing the Simone track for her audition. "I feel like an important thing in this competition is a big moment, something that will be remembered."
She added that she also chose the song because it was a reflection of who she would like to be as an artist.
"I really like soulful music, and that's ultimately what I'm trying to do -- kind of bring the soulful feel and the pop feel together," she said, citing Bruno Mars as an influence.
The 13-year-old said she tried out for "X Factor" because it was the only reality competition series she was old enough to audition for (contestants are required to be 12 or older). While also a fan of rival show "American Idol," Sonenclar said that ultimately she is glad that she chose to try out for "X Factor."
"The judges are really great compared to any other show. They're just a great bunch of people, because Demi [Lovato] and Britney [Spears] are performers, but LA [Reid] and Simon [Cowell] are producers, and no other show has that. So I think that's really cool."
Sonenclar said that growing up in Westchester has given her a "good balance" as she pursues an entertainment career. "It's a great place to live while doing this, because we live close enough to the city so I can go in for auditions and rehearsals and definitely be close by. But also I'm in the suburbs, so I have that to keep me grounded."
As a performer who enjoys acting and singing, Sonenclar said she admires reality TV contestants such as Jennifer Hudson and Constantine Maroulis, "Idol" alums who have gone on to find fame in musicals on screen and on the stage, respectively. But she especially favors season one "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, and has even looked to the pop star for guidance as she navigates competing on "X Factor."
"My mom and I looked at her ["Idol" appearances] from the beginning to the end, and looked at the songs she chose. She did a really good job of having the big moment, but not always doing a big, showy song, and sometimes pulling it back and doing an intimate song. And I think that's important with the audience and judges to see different sides of you."
Based on the positive reaction to Sonenclar's audition, it seems likely that she will go far. Audiences will learn more about Sonenclar's status on the show during this week's Boot Camp round, a time in which contestants who passed the audition rounds endure intensive singing and dancing instruction. Sonenclar said that if she's able to survive this round and make it to the Judges' House round, when judges become mentors to a group of contestants, she's torn on which mentor she'd prefer.
"Each judge is great for different things. If I were to get Demi or Britney, they both come from where I come from. They started very young, and they're both performers. But if I were to get Simon or LA, they would be mentoring from a producer's perspective, which is completely different but also valuable."
Sonenclar is more sure about the role that social media plays in her life.
"I try not to be on it all the time," she said. "There's value communicating with my fans, people who will ultimately vote...but I also think it's important not to get too caught up in that stuff, especially when I'm performing." Still, she has amassed more than 8,400 Twitter followers and more than 10,000 likes on her Facebook page, proving that she has a strong online fan base who seem ready to follow her no matter where her "X Factor" stint takes her.
And with Sonenclar's love of performing, that could mean anything from becoming a pop star to achieving Broadway stardom. And if the eighth-grader had it her way, she wouldn't have to choose.
"In a perfect world, I'd be doing [music and theater], because they're both what I love to do...and I'd be adding TV and movies to that, too. I don't think that's entirely impossible."