UCR Freshman Adanna Duru Makes Top 11 on American Idol

Fans can cheer her on and vote to keep her in the contest

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — UC Riverside freshman Adanna Duru performed an energetic rendition of the Bruno Mars’ song “Runaway Baby” on Fox TV’s reality show “American Idol” Thursday, March 12, and ran away with some nice compliments from the judges.

Keith Urban, a celebrated country music icon, said Adanna, now in the top 11 singers, possessed a “Tina Turner like cool factor.” The other judges are Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr.

At 8 p.m. Thursday, March 19, fans of the 18-year-old with a powerful voice gathered at UCR’s Lothian residential restaurant to watch as the show revealed that she was in the top 10, based on previous online, text and telephone voting totals from a nationwide audience. The 11th contestant was “saved” by the judges, so no one was removed. The next chance to vote is during and after the show Wednesday and Thursday.

“It is exciting and nerve racking at the same time,” said IJ Duru, Adanna’s proud mother and chief cheerleader.”

Adanna Duru is not the only UCR Highlander in this Diamond Bar family. She has an older brother, Zim Duru, who is a third year student at UCR in neuroscience. He has been watching, tweeting and voting to support his sister. A younger brother, Koby, is 16 and still in high school in Diamond Bar.

“She’s a fighter,” IJ said of her daughter. “She’s enjoying the journey, and she is just living the dream.”

The journey started on the first day of the Fall quarter at UCR, when Adanna Duru and her mom had to fly to San Francisco for an audition and get back before she missed too much class. She finished the quarter by juggling a lot of competing priorities, but then asked for a leave of absence to pursue her singing dreams.

Adanna Duru said said that she performs because she loves it, and because she wants to help support her family. She gives voice lessons to earn money, and she does volunteer work as well. Her vast social media efforts enlist the #DuruNation to support her.

No stranger to television contests, Adanna competed in The Voice when she was 15, and made it onto a team led by Adam Levine. She told a local newspaper reporter that she is enjoying the American Idol experience even more.

The campus has held two viewing parties on campus. The first, for the season premiere, drew 50 or 60 people,  including Adanna and her mom. It gave Adanna a chance to thank UCR for supporting her.

That first episode included two Highlanders, Adanna Duru and Rocky Peter Ajoku, who graduated from UCR in 2013. Both happen to be Nigerian-American. Even though his journey on the show ended before Adanna’s, Rocky still spends time on social media asking people to vote for Adanna.

“This is a UC Riverside pride thing, for sure,” said Tammy Giglio, a longtime fan of American Idol and a UCR staff member who has become an admirer of Adanna’s powerful voice and professional dance moves. “I hope she gets to the top 10, because those are the people who go on tour after the show,” Giglio said.

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