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Pinay teener makes her mark in X Factor USA

MANILA, Philippines - A Filipino talent is making her mark in the singing competition X Factor (USA), which recently selected its Top 12 finalists and is now doing the much-awaited live shows. Seventeen-year-old Ellona Santiago is now fiercely competing to win and bag the title to become the third season champion of X Factor (USA).

Ellona first impressed the judges last September, when she delivered a powerful performance of Wings, by Little Mix, which served as her audition piece. Last month, she performed Zedd’s Clarity, which advanced her to the live shows as part of the Top 12.

Unknown to many, Ellona tried out in the first season of X Factor (USA) in 2011, when she was only 14.  She failed to make it as a solo artist but landed as part of a group InTENsity, then mentored by Paula Abdul. Unfortunately, the group made it as far as only the second live show and was subsequently eliminated.

For her standing in the present edition of X Factor (USA) as part of the Top 12, Ellona gave a powerful rendition of Britney Spears’ Till the World Ends, her first performance in the live shows. Ellona is part of the Girls’ group, mentored by Demi Lovato. The two other talents are Rion Paige and Khaya Cohen.

Judge/mentor Paulina Rubio handles the Boys’ group, with Carlos Guevara, Carlito Olivero and Tim Olstad. Kelly Rowland mentors the Over 25 group with Jeff Gutt, Lillie McCloud and Rachel Potter. Simon Cowell is in charge of the groups, with Alex and Sierra, Restless Road and Sweet Suspense.

In one of Ellona’s earlier interviews for X Factor (USA), she shared that she was born in the Philippines but her family moved to the US when she was 11 months old. They stayed in a relative’s garage for six years. She is the youngest of four children (all girls) and hails from San Lorenzo, California. Her parents are Jose and Veronica Santiago.

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Auditions for the competition were earlier held in Los Angeles (California), New Orleans (Louisiana), Charleston (South Carolina), Long Island (New York) and Denver (Colorado). The show is hosted by Mario Lopez.

Past judges of X Factor (USA) are Nicole Scherzinger, Paula Abdul, Britney Spears, Cheryl Cole and L.A. Reid. The first winner was Melanie Amaro, followed by Tate Stevens.

X Factor is created by Simon Cowell after he left American Idol four years ago (Season 9). To date, X Factor airs in many other countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

Last year, X Factor premiered in the Philippines, hosted by KC Concepcion with singers Pilita Corrales, Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano and Charice Pempengco as judge/mentors. KZ Tandingan is the first winner of X Factor Philippines.

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