That’s a wrap on this season’s “American Idol” auditions!
ABC’s reality singing competition aired its final audition episode Sunday night, with a slew of talent singing for judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, each hoping to score a golden ticket to Hollywood.
One of those contestants was a familiar face.
Fire, a 22-year-old stripper and single mother from Oklahoma, returned for another audition after she was told by the judges in last week’s episode she had promise but wasn’t quite ready for Hollywood. At the time, Perry told the crying contestant, who said she wants to provide a better life for her 4-year-old daughter, to come back for another chance.
Fire seized her second chance — and brought the heat with her powerful voice.
Fire returns for second chance at golden ticket
Singing Adele’s “Love in the Dark,” Fire showed clear improvement, powerfully belting when Perry encouraged her to “fight for it.”
“I was pulling for you so badly there,” Richie said. “You took a hard lick on your first time around. You do have a great tone in there, but I’m really not sure.”
Bryan said there’s something special in Fire that’s undeniable.
“You have come back in here with a completely different mindset,” he said. “Are you the best singer we’ve seen? Not at all, but there’s just stuff about you that I’d really like to push you on. You’ve got a lot left to discover.”
Perry remarked something about Fire “has shifted. I think you’ve lived a lot of your life in protection mode,” she said. “Being able to open back up again, that’s the gift. Take that note, and maybe you’ll actually really surprise us and yourself.”
Fire left with a golden ticket in hand.
Cam Amen goes from foster care to platinum ticket winner
Cam Amen, a 27-year-old server from Omaha, Nebraska, stunned the judges with his soaring cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
He also moved them with his story and spirit. When Amen was a kid, he and his siblings were taken from their mother and placed in foster care. After crying through the song, while delivering impressive runs, Amen earned a group hug from the judges – and then something better.
The judges awarded him the platinum ticket, which is bestowed upon three contestants each season, sending them not just to Hollywood but past the first round of cuts.
“It sounds like you never got a shot,” Perry told Amen. “It sounds like you had to sacrifice. You don’t need to hold onto it anymore. Just let it come out.”
Bryan said Amen “might be the best soul singer we’ve ever had,” and Richie thanked “divine guidance” for sending Amen to “American Idol.”
“My friend, you’re going to have one heck of a ride,” Richie added.
Mikenley Brown was once ‘going to die.’ Now she’s going to Hollywood
Another contestant who opened up about hardships she’s faced was Mikenley Brown, who said she “went through a really hard time with not eating” after getting bullied in middle school. “We were in doctors and hospitals all the time, because my body was just failing,” she said. ‘The doctor looked me in the face and said ‘You’re going to die.’“
The 17-year-old earned a standing ovation from the judges with “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna, with her dad accompanying her on the guitar. “You just got a thing,” Bryan said. “You look like you were born to do this.”
Richie added: “I can spot your voice from any other contestant. That’s called style.” She earned three yes’s from the judges.
Eurythmics member Dave Stewart accompanies daughter Kaya to audition
Sometimes, talent runs in the family.
Kaya Stewart, a 22-year-old musician from West Hollywood, California, came to her audition with her dad Dave Stewart, a British musician from the band Eurythmics, featuring Annie Lennox. The judges immediately recognized him, with Richie even noting he and Dave were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame together.
Showing off her nuanced style and technique on a song called “This Tattoo,” which she wrote with her dad, Stewart was an obvious yes for the judges. “We’re gonna probably be a little bit more nitpicky with you, because you’re good,” Perry warned, smiling.