Syesha Raquel Mercado (born January 2, 1987) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and model. Mercado was the third place finalist on the seventh season of American Idol. Prior to Idol, Mercado was on The One: Making a Music Star and she won Florida Super Singer. Her musical influences are Whitney Houston, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Zap Mama, Lauryn Hill and Aretha Franklin.
Mercado was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on January 2, 1987. Her mother Zelda, a former Motown backup singer, is African-American and her father, José, is of Puerto Rican descent. Mercado grew up in Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida. She attended Booker High School for the Visual and Performings Arts Theatre Program and graduated with a certificate as a performance major in Sarasota, Florida where she appeared in various productions. At the 2005 Florida Theatre Conference and the 2005 South Eastern Theatre Conference, Mercado won “Best Supporting Actress” for her role as the Sour Kangaroo in Seussical the Musical. Mercado also appeared as a contestant on the failed ABC talent show, The One: Making a Music Star in summer 2006.
Mercado attended Daughtrey Elementary School and Manatee School for the Arts both in Manatee County. Dreaming to become a gospel singer one day, Mercado signed a contract at age nine with the Take Stock in Children initiative, a scholarship program for “low-income families who show potential for college but are unlikely to be able to afford a higher education.” Mercado graduated from Booker High School in 2005, where she was in the Theater VPA (Visual and Performing Arts) department. She also attended Florida International University in Miami, Florida, majoring in Theatre.
Mercado is best friends with former idol contestant Ramiele Malubay.