The highly anticipated 17th season of ABC’s American Idol made its big debut on March 3, and it seems that the only people more excited than the viewers are judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, and host Ryan Seacrest.
They grow them big in Florien, Louisiana, and it seems that they might grow them talented, too. It was hard not to be intimidated by 26-year-old Tyler Mitchell’s 6’4” frame, but whenever as he sang Vince Gill’s tender ballad, “Whenever You Come Around,” he seemed less imposing or more like a gentle giant. Although he admitted he hadn’t performed much before because of fear, his performance was solid enough to earn the humble country boy a shot in Hollywood.
Not everyone went through, but unlike the early seasons of the shows when those rougher auditions became fodder for the internet, most of those who didn’t make it through to Hollywood weren’t shown.
Leave it to a Texas girl to whip out some hardcore country, which is what Laci Kaye Booth did. Hailing from Livingston, Texas, the 23-year-old sang “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, but it was her Tammy Wynette-esque tone that won the judges over. “I think you’re the first voice we’ve heard that is really a diamond in the rough,” Katy told the beauty. “I don’t know if you believe that about yourself, but you really have something different.” Luke continued, “You have a timbre in your voice that we didn’t seen from any girl in your lane last year. I think you are very, very close to being a world class.” Lionel also had some sound advice for the young lady: “If you understand how to hone in on your thing and don’t get psyched out by everybody else’s thing, you’re going to be OK.”
In his introductory package, we learned that 25-year-old Nick Townsend was one of four children in his very close Nebraska family. However, in a relatively short amount of both his older and younger brothers committed suicide. As heartbreaking as his story was for anyone to hear, it hit Luke the hardest. The country superstar’s brother passed away before Luke had originally planned to move to Nashville, and his sister died unexpectedly after he made his Opry debut. “The simplicity of how you are able to sell your voice is very understated and nice,” Luke said before also telling him, “I’ve lost both of my siblings and I applaud you.”
It seemed especially poignant that as American Idol was rolling closing credits, they also shared the Suicide Prevention Hotline number.
Auditions for season 17 of American Idol continue on March 6.