| @Melanie Amaro | Melanie Amaro


The winner of the first season of The X Factor USA, Melanie Amaro drew comparisons to classic R&B divas such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and raised by her grandparents in the British Virgin Islands along with her two brothers and sister, Amaro grew up singing at home as well as at church, weddings, and other occasions, but never entered any talent competitions until her mother encouraged her to try out for The X Factor. Amaro sang Beyoncé's "Listen" for judges Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul (both formerly of American Idol), solo artist and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, and producer L.A. Reid at the BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Florida. She was chosen as one of the 32 finalists and sang Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There" for Cowell, who selected her as one of his singers to mentor for the season. When she didn't make the cut for the 16 finalists, Cowell decided he'd made a mistake and she became the show's 17th finalist. Amaro did well during the season, becoming one of the final three singers along with Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik; on the final episode in December 2011, she was named the show's winner, earning $1 million for herself as well as a $4 million contract with Epic Records. She also appeared in a Pepsi commercial with Elton John that aired during Super Bowl XLVI. Amaro's debut album, Truly..., featuring the single "Don't Fail Me Now," is set for release in early 2013. ~ Heather Phares, Rovi