The morning after landing in "American Idol"'s season eight Top 12, Jorge Nuñez, who hails from Puerto Rico, got a big surprise when Ryan Seacrest (listen to show here) passed on a message from Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez saying that "they couldn't be prouder."
"That is the best thing that ever happened to me," Jorge says. "They are so famous here. Imagine how famous they are in Puerto Rico. They told me they were brought to tears by my performance. That is the first time I ever heard from them. Oh, my God. They know who I am."
The 21-year-old who auditioned in San Juan says it was his great grandfather, who passed away a year ago, who encouraged him to audition for the singing competition.
"Six months after [he died], they announced they were coming to Puerto Rico, so I decided I should tryout."
Earlier in the season, Jorge was encouraged by the judges to lose his accent, and he has been working with a dialogue coach toward that end. It was evident on Tuesday night when he sang Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." But afterwards, Simon Cowell did a 180 and told Jorge he should keep his accent and be himself.
"Actually, when they told me to change my accent, what they wanted me to change was my accent when singing," he explains. "I could understand it because it is distracting, but if anything, it helped me [when Simon told me to keep my accent] to be a little more relieved, because that is me. I am 21 years old. That is not something I am going to be able to change."
"American Idol"'s Top 12 begin the battle to become the next singing sensation next Tuesday at 8 p.m. on FOX.