“American Idol” kicked off its 12th season last night on Fox, once again with a new judging panel that includes superstar Mariah Carey, country crooner Keith Urban and rapper Nicki Minaj who all joined original judge Randy Jackson for the new incarnation of the international brand.
The premiere episode featured a pleasant surprise. Not only with young Israeli contestant Shira Gavrielov, but rather with Mariah Carey speaking Hebrew. Carey welcomed the 23 year old hopeful with “Shalom” and ended with calling her “Sababa” (Middle Eastern slang term that means Awesome.) During a separate audition of a Jewish 15 year old contestant from Brooklyn, Carey also called him “Sababa” (in an unaired segment.)
The audition took place in New York during Rosh Hashana, and Carey even called her Israeli friend Liron, who was on set with her, asking how to correctly pronounce “Shana Tova,” which she then wrote down on a piece of paper. That same Israeli friend was mentioned on Twitter by Carey back in August.
Gavrielov, who received the coveted golden ticket to Hollywood, has already had a solo album in Israel. She is the daughter of noted veteran singer-songwriter Miki Gavrielov and local talent agent Michal Gavrielov. Sources reveal that Carey even asked her to sing something in Hebrew, however that wasn’t eventually shown on the show.
Mariah Carey is the best-selling female artist of all time with more than 200 million albums sold to date and eighteen Billboard #1 singles. Her addition to “American Idol” was announced in July, with a reported salary of $18 million, the highest amount ever paid for a reality judge.