Tonight, one of CPS’ most talented students could advance to the final round of American Idol – the show that launched the careers of such vocal greats as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and CPS alum Jennifer Hudson.
Devin Velez, a senior cadet at Rickover Naval Academy, has made it to the semi-final round of American Idol, meaning that he is among the show’s Top 10 male vocalists for 2013.
“It’s such a blessing,” said Devin’s mother, Sandra Liz Lam about her son’s success on the show. “It’s exciting and surreal at the same time.”
The star of Rickover’s musical theater program and a standout in its jazz ensemble, Devin has been singing since he was a toddler.
“I used to sing around the house all the time,” said Sandra, who has worked as a professional singer, “so it didn’t surprise me when he picked it up early. But by the age of 9 or 10, he’d surpassed anything I could do.”
Now 18, Devin’s talent is on display everywhere, including the hallways of Rickover Naval Academy, which are lined with posters encouraging his peers to vote for their classmate tonight.
“The students are really excited,” said Rickover Academy Superintendent Michael Biela. “In my 21 years at CPS schools, I’ve never seen a group of kids rally around a performer the way our students have rallied around Devin. And that was even before American Idol. They just love hearing him sing.”
The song that catapulted Devin into the semi-finals was Beyoncé’s “Listen”, which he performed in both English and Spanish without drawing a single negative comment from the notoriously tough four-judge panel.
“Everyone else who performed drew at least one criticism from a judge,” said Devin’s mother Sandra, “but that night, they only had positive things to say about Devin.”
According to his mother, Devin is relaxed about his performance tonight. “He’s very comfortable on stage,” she said. “He gets more nervous when it comes time to count the votes. Personally, I’m nervous the whole time.”
Tune into FOX at 7 p.m. tonight to see Devin perform live on American Idol, then cast your vote! You will be able to vote via phone or text, or by going to Supervote online. In order to cast a vote online, you must have a registered Facebook account.