Fox’s popular reality talent competition American Idol kicks off its 10th season tonight with their New York/New Jersey auditions featuring a crew of judges that includes veteran Randy Jackson alongside newcomers Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Jennifer Lopez with Interscope Geffen A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine serving as the in-house mentor.
Among those who auditioned in the Big Apple is 21-year-old Pia Toscano from Howard Beach, New York. Her unique name may ring a bell among devout Idol fans as she tried out for the show in Season 6 and made it all the way through to the top 40 before being eliminated.
UPDATE – As you probably already know, Pia has made it through to the top 12 and is now the favorite (according to the Las Vegas odds) to win it all!
Pia Toscano comes from a musical family and began dancing and singing at a very young age. She was enrolled in dance class at two-and-a-half and by the age of four she was already performing in talent shows. Here’s a sample of of her 4-year-old vocal chops singing along to the Dolly Parton penned Whitney Houston single “I Will Always Love You” from YouTube:
Pia continued her pursuit of music, including a part in a local church performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” but didn’t take it seriously until the age of thirteen when she became the exclusive singer of the national anthem at her school, P.S./M.S. 207. She sent out audition tapes and landed the national anthem gig for the Brooklyn Cyclones, one of the New York Mets’ minor league teams.
Pia Toscano performed the national anthem as well as “God Bless America” several times a year for three years as well as their post-season appearances. Those performances cemented in Pia’s mind that singing was what she wanted to do for a living. She told The Queens Chronicle in 2008, “That’s when I felt like this is what I really should be doing.”
Here is a video of Toscano performing the national anthem at a New York Mets game at Shea Stadium in 2008 after beating out hundreds of competitors for the opportunity:
Pia Toscano is a member of the group Current Affair according to her MySpace profile and is believed to be one of this season’s Top 40 finalists. She lists her musical influences as: Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Ella Fitzgerald, Brian Mcknight, Stevie Wonder, luther Vandross, Barry White, Brian Adams, Andrea Boccelli.
UPDATE – Pia is tearing the house down on American Idol! CLICK HERE to see her rousing performance of the Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You” and see pictures of Pia at the American Idol finalists party on March 3, 2011!
Here is another photo and a a few more videos of Pia from her YouTube channel which should just about complete your crash course in Pia Toscanology!