Malaya Tina Bandico Watson (born September 24, 1997) is an American singer from Southfield, Michigan, who finished in eighth place on the thirteenth season of American Idol. Watson is the second youngest contestant in American Idol history that has reached the live show, next to tenth season contestant, Lauren Alaina.
She cites her two grandfathers and her father as her personal musical influences. She described her style in singing from Sly Stone and Beyoncé.
Watson auditioned in Detroit with Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” She second youngest contestant in American Idol’s history that has reached the live finals after Lauren Alaina. Watson is the first contestant born after 1996 to have reached the live finals on the show as of 2014.
After being deemed as a front-runner to win by judge Jennifer Lopez and fans, Watson was announced as the act with lowest number of votes for Top 8 reveal night. With the Judges save gone Malaya was eliminated from the competition. She sang “I Am Changing” as her farewell song. After her final performance Watson received a final standing ovation from all three judges.