‘Idol’ audition inspires Del Mar singer to set music career in motion


By Claire Harlin

After making it into the top 200 contestants on “American Idol” in 2010, Julianne Manalo said she was really down and discouraged when didn’t advance to the next round. But what seemed like failure to her was actually a jump start to her budding career as a vocalist.

“That’s what really pushed me to start singing original music instead of covers to define myself as a musician,” said the Del Mar native. “I’ve always wanted to write my own music, but that pushed me to work harder.”

Soon after her audition, the 20-year-old San Diego State University student started writing her first album. She then joined forces with a producer, and her efforts are starting to come to fruition. She recently released her first single, “The Afterparty,” which is available on iTunes and Amazon. A demo album is also in the works, and Manalo has been keeping herself busy performing around San Diego. On Sept. 12, she sang the national anthem for about 2,000 spectators at a convention center conference and, in November, she’ll be performing locally at the Asian American Music Festival.

She said her album defines her as a pop artist — a few ballads mixed in with mainly “fun and dandy” tracks. The inspiration behind her recent single is “letting go and letting the music take over,” she said.

“It’s an anthem to get you out there and have some fun and be yourself,” she said, adding that other tracks on the demo are about experiences, relationships and people in her life.

“Some are about the happy parts of love and some are about the times when it gets tough,” the Torrey Pines High School graduate said.

Manalo writes all the lyrics and melodies of her songs, and her producer helps with the instrumentals. Her time in the studio is a hands-on, collaborative process.

“It’s done on professional synthesizers with special effects,” she said. “I’m right there with my producer creating music.”

Manalo has been passionate about music ever since she was a toddler, and she’s also been a natural performer who loves the stage.

“When I was 3 years old, my dad used to play piano with me and taught me how to sing,” she said, adding that he plays and sings also.

Around the age of 6, Manalo was singing a lot of karaoke, and was highly involved in her dance classes.

When Manalo was 8, she sang Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” in front of 300 people at a family event, and it was then when she decided that she really loved to perform and wanted to pursue it.

She continued performing and practicing throughout her childhood, and in high school Manalo held the role of lead singer for the Torrey Pines Jazz Band for four years. She was recognized as an “Outstanding Soloist” at the Seattle JazzFestival, and she also headed her school’s dance team.

For more information on Manalo, visit


and to see her perform, visit