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Two Asian Americans vie for ‘American Idol’ finals

Francisco Martin and Aaron Gunn advanced into the top 7 of American Idol

Views from the Edge

Both Asian American contestants, Francisco Martin and Arthur Gunn, made the Top 7 of American Idol and could end up in the finals next Sunday.

The Top 11 was whittled down to the Top 7 through the votes from the audience. The same voting process will determine who will move on to next week’s finale.

Sunday night, the singers sang two songs each — one from the Disney songbook and the second one dedicated to their mothers as a Mother’s Day tribute.

Gunn, whose birth name is Dibesh Pokharel, was first to learn he had made the Top 7.

For his Disney selection, the Nepalese American, in his own unique style, sang his rendition  of the song Kiss the Girl from The Little Mermaid.

Before he performed his second number in the living room of his Wichita, Kansas home, Gunn read his mother a letter he had written thanking her for all she had done for him. Then, he sang a cover of Hey Ma by Bon Iver as she looked on.

“It’s amazing to see her reactions to me being on American Idol,” Gunn told the camera. “She’s bursting out in joy and she’s all smiles.”

For his Disney song, Martin picked You’re In My Heart from Tarzan and drew praise from the judges — Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie — who at this stage of the contest with the audience voting their favorites, just offer instant reviews. They remarked how relaxed he’s become, in contrast to the nervousness he displayed earlier in the American Idol journey.

The Filipino American singer from Daly City, CA was even better when it came to his Mother’s Day song — River by Leon Bridges — which he dedicated to his mother, Fatima, who is working on the front lines at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco. 

Martin’s emotional cover while his mother dabbed at her tears, impressed his enthusiastic supporter Luke Bryan who called it “better than the original.”

“I would buy that right now,” he says.

Perry was just as taken, calling it “so soulful and beautiful and real.

Richie was a fan, as well, continuing to marvel at Francisco’s progress.

“You’re no longer in your head,” he said. “Your confidence is front and center and it’s all about your delivery now. …You have a career.”
The reality competition continued its unique format —  without a live audience with the competitors singing from their homes. The format change was necessary to maintain the social distancing edicts aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

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