Ciara-Camile Roque Velasco (born September 1, 1985), is an American singer and was one of the finalists on the third season of the reality/talent-search television series, American Idol. She is one-fourth Irish, one-fourth Spanish, and half Filipino.
Born in Makati City, Philippines, Camile Velasco's family later moved to Haiku, Maui—located in the islands of Hawaii. Prior to American Idol, Velasco was a struggling songwriter/composer who worked at her parents' IHOP Restaurant in Kahului. She has since released a single with Universal/Motown, headlined events in California, Hawaii, and elsewhere, and is currently working with Up Above Records to complete an album.
In 2003, Velasco auditioned for American Idol in Honolulu, Oahu and was unanimously accepted by the judges for her rendition of the chorus and bridge of Ready or Not—a Delfonics-sampled classic by the Fugees. Simon Cowell remarked that “you’re actually very good,” assuring Velasco that she had “no need to be nervous.” Randy Jackson added that, “I love the sound of your voice. I love the kind of dark kinda quality of it.” Finally, Paula Abdul stated that “you have a real interesting tone. You’re a beautiful, beautiful girl.” She encouraged Velasco not to be afraid to “let go” and to “know and own the fact that you’re really good.”
In the Hollywood round, Velasco sang several songs solo and performed "You Can't Hurry Love" in a group. She was eventually advanced to the Top 32, in the second group of semifinalists. After her stirring performance of Brian McKnight's "One Last Cry," Simon Cowell stated that "you are probably the best out of the group tonight." Before she left the stage, Randy Jackson requested that she infuse more of her hip-hop style into her next performance, and Velasco jovially replied, "I'll do it, baby."
At the results show, Velasco emerged as the top vote-getter in her group, just as Cowell had predicted, and she shed actual tears as she performed a reprise of "One Last Cry." Velasco quickly became the pride of Hawaii, and small-town Maui in particular, causing the islands to vote exponentially more than in previous years. Her return home before the finals was deeply emotional, as she was showered with support and physically covered with colorful leis.
On American Idol, Velasco’s trademark was a red, yellow and green Rasta wristband, which she continually wore on her left wrist as a good luck charm and as a homage to the reggae movement (and her idols, Lauryn Hill and Bob Marley, in particular). According to her, the three colors represented peace, happiness, and unity, respectively. Velasco also wore the 3rd Eye Vision logo of the Hieroglyphics, a San Francisco Bay Area hip-hop crew, on several occasions, reflecting her love of the music and culture. In the media, Velasco became known for wearing self-designed apparel, and for being consistently unafraid to express her unique interests, conscious outlook, and sensitive ideology.
Vocally, Velasco was quickly classified as being hip-hop—a culture and style she certainly identified with (but was not limited to). In the competition, she was even likened to her inspiration, Lauryn Hill, one of the most influential women in hip-hop—a comparison that nearly brought Velasco to tears. In the Top 12 finals, however, she sang Son of a Preacher Man, Desperado, For Once in My Life, and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in her own personal style, without consciously applying a particular genre to her performances.
Leaving American IdolEdit
On April 7, 2004, however, Camile Velasco was eliminated from American Idol. She and Jasmine Trias, fellow Filipino-American from Hawaii, had received the fewest votes during Elton John week, and were asked to perform one last time before Ryan Seacrest revealed the night’s results. Mostly due to increasingly harsh criticism from the judges, Velasco seemed to anticipate her departure. As a result, she became the first contestant to alter the lyrics of her song impromptu, substituting “the blues” with “I love you,” as she pointed to her fans in the audience and her fellow contestants, and replacing “back to the howling old owl in the woods” with “back to the island of Maui, at home.” Velasco kept her composure as her name was announced, but began to cry during her dedication video. As the show ended, the remaining finalists were quick to encircle her in a tight embrace.
Despite her departure from the show, Velasco’s fan base continued to support her. She was inundated by gifts and letters, even months after leaving the show. Since Idol, Velasco has gained a reputation for engaging her fans, and patiently meeting with crowds of people, to the occasional dismay of the employees and management at certain venues. Velasco’s motto, however is “love life” and she has consistently taken an appreciative, laid-back approach to each public event.
Although she received criticism from the judges during the show’s finals, Velasco’s track on the American Idol Season 3 CD, Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do), was praised by music reviewers in New York and LA, and identified as the best track on the album by several major publications. It seemed to highlight her potential as a recording artist.
When Velasco’s friend, Fantasia Barrino, won the competition, the Top 10 of American Idol 3 began to prepare for a US tour, sponsored by Pop Tarts, which would consist of more than fifty shows across the country, and a few overseas. On the tour, Velasco sang Ex Factor, partially as a tribute to Lauryn Hill, and inserted a self-written verse called Destiny in her performances at later shows. She also sang solo during group covers of "When Doves Cry", "Heartburn", "Crazy in Love", and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Velasco later reflected that the tour was an amazing experience, and it had raised her confidence immensely.
After American Idol, Velasco went to the Philippines to perform at a Christmas concert with Martin Nievera. She also made numerous television appearances, and performed with South Border, Billy Crawford, and several other local and international stars. Back in the US, Velasco settled in Los Angeles, California, and began to work in the studio, and study music and writing at the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood.
|Fantasia Barrino · Diana DeGarmo · Jasmine Trias · LaToya London · George Huff · John Stevens · Jennifer Hudson · Jon Peter Lewis · Camile Velasco · Amy Adams · Matthew Rogers · Leah LaBelle|