American Idol returns to ABC on Sunday, Feb. 19 for its Season 21 premiere.
Here’s more about Wé Ani.
* The stage name has changed, but lots of singing show fans are sure to recognize the face and The Voice. Wé competed on Season 11 of The Voice as Wé McDonald, shocking coaches and fans with the contrast between her little-girl voice and her very big girl vocals.
* Just 17 at the time, the young lady from Harlem, N.Y., turned four chairs with her blind audition performance of “Feeling Good” and wound up finishing third on the show in the fall of 2016. Former American Idol contestant Sundance Head was the winner that season.
* She’s enjoyed some success since, first with a song called “Head Up High” that she wrote with fellow contestant Kylie Rothfield during their time on the show. “We were fed up with all these expectations and societal standards,” including perceptions of what a female singing star should look like, she said at the time.
* Wé made the song part of an anti-bullying campaign along with a children’s book she wrote called ““The Little Girl with a Big Voice,” It’s basically the story of Wé, a young girl who is bullied in school but who winds up performing on stage in front of a crowd that has come to accept her.
* Said Wé: “When kids read it, I want them to take away that confidence is beautiful in people no matter what they look like. You can have a small beginning, but if you work hard, you can end up on top. You have the right to fight for that.”
* She’s released four more singles since announcing the change of her stage name in July 2022. One of those, “White Chocolate,” has been streamed more than 240,000 times on Spotify. You can check out the music video below.
* Wé started singing at age 4 and acting at age 6, but says she was bullied in school, both for her high speaking voice and the thick glasses she wore. That led her to feeling “ashamed of who I was” and “very alone.” She found a way to express herself through music.
* Pre-Voice, she had already performed at Carnegie Hall, been selected to perform at the 50th anniversary of the Harlem School of the Arts and twice won Amateur Night at the Apollo in New York.