‘American Idol’ Recap: Singer Makes Judges Cry with Moving Audition

Jill O'Rourke
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ABC/Eric McCandless

American Idol Season 20 returned Sunday night with another batch of amazing auditions. This week’s episode ended with a particularly emotional performance that brought all three judges to tears. Several contestants also paid tribute to their loved ones, and there was a weird moment where Katy Perry thought she saw a ghost.

Sam Finelli’s Audition Brings ‘American Idol’ Judges to Tears

The final audition of the night came from 28-year-old Sam Finelli, who shared that he has autism and has been afraid to audition for many years. He said he wanted to finally take the chance before he passes the age limit, adding that he “never thought that I would be here in a million years.”

For his audition, Sam chose to sing “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves, showing off a powerful voice that brought all three judges to their feet. The standing ovation made Sam cry, but he made sure to tell them they were “happy tears.” The judges themselves also got choked up over Sam’s talent.

Lionel Richie told Sam, “You were born enough,” while Katy Perry encouraged him to “always sing from your heart.” All three judges voted “yes” to give Sam a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.


Contestants Honor Their Loved Ones

Several contestants during Sunday’s show paid tribute to their loved ones, including Dontrell Briggs, who brought a blanket with his godmother’s picture on it. She sadly passed away last year, and Dontrell honored her with a cover of “For Your Glory” by Tasha Cobbs Leonard.

Richie voted yes, but Perry voted no. It all came down to Luke Bryan. Dontrell offered to sing “Tennessee Whiskey,” and the resulting performance gave Bryan chills. He immediately voted “yes” to send Dontrell to Hollywood.

Eighteen-year-old Cadence Baker also honored her own musical family, with her dad Shane playing guitar for her. She also gave a shout-out to her grandfather Gary Baker, who wrote the song “I Swear.” Cadence’s performance of “I’m Your Baby Tonight” had the judges predicting she’ll make it to the Top 10. She got a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.

Singer Mark Osborne, meanwhile, did something special for his mom by auditioning. She asked the singer to try out for the show as a birthday present for her. The gift got even better when the judges gave Mark a Golden Ticket for his gritty performance of “Stone” by Whiskey Myers.

Katy Perry Thinks She Saw a Ghost During ‘American Idol’ Auditions

Sunday night’s episode wasn’t without its weird moments, including judge Katy Perry’s apparent ghost encounter. During funeral director Donavan Diaz’s performance of “When It Rains It Pours” by Luke Combs, Perry noticed that the Platinum Ticket was falling off the wall.

The judges ended up rejecting Donavan, but things got even spookier as he left. All the lights went out, scaring the judges. The moment was likely a prank by the crew. However, Donavan wasn’t the only singer to audition who had ties to death.

Emily Faith shared that her family owns a funeral home. She performed “Good Hearted Woman” by Willie Nelson, prompting Bryan to say she has an “authentic country voice.” The judges gave her a Golden Ticket, and there didn’t seem to be any paranormal activity.

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