After the first round of cuts shown on Sunday’s episode, the remaining singers paired up to perform duets for judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. Although many soared, some cracked under the pressure.
Two singers who felt the stress were Kaya Stewart, whose dad is Dave Stewart from the British band Eurythmics, and Fire, a single mother and stripper who wants to provide a better life for her daughter.
The pair got off to a great start. Then, Stewart came down with a terrible illness. When it was their turn to take the stage, she delivered some disappointing news.
“I have been trying to push myself and keep going,” Stewart told the judges. “I wasn’t able to give 100%, so I’ve decided to not perform. But Fire is going to perform, and I’m really grateful that I got to be here.”
When Perry asked if that meant Stewart had decided to leave the competition, she said yes and walked off in tears.
Katy Perry weeps after selfless singer Jayna Elise comes to Fire’s rescue
Then Fire broke down in tears, too. “It’s been really stressful,” said the contestant, whose been open on the show about her struggles with confidence. “It was a lot of stress on me to learn a different arrangement.”
That’s when Perry asked the crowd of singers whether contestants if any could jump up and sing with Fire.
Jayna Elise, a rock singer who demonstrated selflessness and grace several times in the episode, happily stepped up. The two sang Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want from Me.”
“Listen, Fire,” Perry said before they started singing, “you’re not going to be abandoned anymore.”
The competitors and judges cheered on Fire and Elise through the song. Fire started crying by the end, overwhelmed by the support. Perry wept, too.
“I’m proud of you,” Perry told the contestant. “You’re growing, little by little. You can’t control a lot, but you can control yourself, and you can control your future. Thank you for standing up here and continuing to try. Thank you for swinging. Thank you for not forgetting. Thank you for fighting. And, in this moment, we get to control a little bit of your future. You’re going forward, Fire.”
Elise opened up about why she decided to come to Fire’s rescue. “I know what it feels like to be alone and not have anybody,” she said.
Adin Boyer slays Elton John song in trio with Jayna Elise, Summer Joy
Fire wasn’t the only person Elise helped out. Adin Boyer, a contestant who has been open on the show about the challenges he faces with autism, was the only singer left without a duet partner when the singers had to pair up. He became overwhelmed and had to walk out of the theater to calm himself.
“It is so important that people see this side of my disability,” he said. “The sort of thing I have to go through.”
Elise and college student Summer Joy didn’t hesitate to volunteer to bring Boyer into their group.
The trio slayed Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing,” with crisp harmonies. Boyer also showed off his impressive skills on the piano.
The judges sent all three singers to the next round, not just for their impressive vocals, but also for their inclusive spirit. “What we are very proud of and happy about are that the angels showed up to save the terrified and struggling Adin,” Richie said. “It was something that needs to be rewarded.”
Iam Tongi in tears as late father’s guitar breaks right before duet
A heartbreaking moment came from Iam Tongi, whose father died shortly before his “Idol” audition. Tongi had decided to play the guitar his father gave him throughout the competition, but the instrument broke shortly before he hit the stage with his duet partner Oliver Steele.
Tongi tearfully told the judges how much the guitar means to him.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to play the guitar, and we didn’t really have much money,” Tongi said. “My dad spent his holiday paycheck to buy me that guitar. I made a promise that I was going use it at every performance.”
Bryan promised Tongi that “we’ll have that (guitar) working as quick as this show can.” Tongi went on to play a different guitar for his duet of The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears” with Steele.
Bryan said the two “bring an innocent soul” to the competition. They both moved on to the next round.