‘American Idol’ Singer Honors Grandpa in Early Release Audition
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American Idol has shared an early release audition from this Sunday’s new episode of Season 21, featuring singer Jon Wayne Hatfield. The singer performed a heartfelt original song about his grandfather Ray, who recently came out as gay.
Jon Wayne Hatfield Auditions for American Idol
Jon Wayne shared with the judges that he was raised by his grandparents since the age of 5, as his mother dealt with addiction. The singer described his grandfather Ray as his best friend. After Jon Wayne’s grandmother passed away, Ray came out to his grandson.
“After about a year and a half of not talking to me, he sat me down and told me he was gay,” Jon Wayne shared. “I just wanted to put it out there right away, like, ‘Hey, don’t think that’s gonna change a damn thing between me and you. Because you’re my best friend, and you’re my dad.'”
For his audition, Jon Wayne performed an original song called “Tell Me Ray.” The judges invited Ray into the audition room so he could listen to his grandson perform. Jon Wayne showed off a gritty country voice that impressed the panel.
What Did the Judges Think of His Performance?
The judges gave the audition a standing ovation. Jon Wayne’s grandpa teared up over his performance, leading judge Lionel Richie to share his handkerchief with him. Richie praised Jon Wayne’s “great songwriting.”
“What I love about being a part of this show is people come in and bare their souls in front of us,” Luke Bryan shared. “People at home that may be dealing with the same stuff get to realize that they’re not alone … Maybe we’re not on an island on our own.”
The judges said they knew Jon Wayne would be good from the first note he played on the guitar. Bryan said he “showcased the right foundation of what we’re looking for.” Katy Perry told him, “You’ve got so many stories inside of you.”
Jon Wayne earned a Golden Ticket to Hollywood for his performance. Tune in to this Sunday’s new episode of American Idol on ABC to see even more auditions.