Jessica has been added to the lineup of PBS' National Memorial Day Concert (May 27, 8/7c), featuring such celebrities as CSI:NY's Gary Sinise, Ellen Burstyn, Selma Blair, Dennis Franz, Natalie Cole and Chris Daughtry.
"I'm going to be singing the national anthem and 'The Prayer'," Jessica tells me exclusively. Having previously sung "The Star-Spangled Banner" at two San Diego Chargers football games and "The Prayer" on Idol, Jessica says she's more excited than nervous about the upcoming live event. "I've known these songs my whole life and they're both special to me. I'm really happy about this."
In between Idol rehearsals, Jessica shared the news with fellow finalists Hollie Cavanagh and Joshua Ledet. "Joshua was particularly excited for me because he knew that [2011 Idol competitor] Pia [Toscano] had done this concert last year. He showed me videos and got me even more pumped."
"The Prayer" is more than just a song in the young singer's repertoire; praying is part of her every day life. "I'm very religious," Jessica says. "I carry a rosary with me everywhere and pray quietly before I go on stage. I used to pray with my rosary for nine straight days. My grandmother told me on the ninth day you make your last prayer and the prayer will come through. That's what I've been doing and hopefully it works."
Memorial Day also holds special significance to the young performer, as her father and grandfather both served in the United States military. "My dad's in the Navy and my grandpa's retired from the Navy," she says.
The concert will also feature appearances from retired General Colin Powell and a heartfelt welcome home to U.S. troops who have been serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. "There are a lot of great countries out there," Jessica says. "I'm half Filipina and half Mexican, but I'm very proud to be an American. It's great we can all mesh together."
And with just two weeks to go before the next American Idol is chosen, Jessica says she is savoring every moment. "I never thought I'd make it this far, much less the top four. It's crazy!"