‘American Idol': Teenage Singer Has Emotional Reunion With Her Army Father After Audition [Watch]
When it comes to American Idol, one thing is for sure: The show does not run short of fresh talent or emotional stories. And one such singer who stood in front of judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan on Sunday (Feb. 26) night brought both.
Fifteen-year-old Kaylin Hedges of New York pulled at America’s heartstrings during the latest edition of Season 21’s American Idol when she shared a touching story of her father. The teenage standout revealed that her dad, who is in the Army, had to deploy for her to be able to chase her dreams.
“I don’t get to see my dad very often physically in person,” Hedges, who said she has loved music since she was a little girl, singing at fairs in her home state, told viewers. “He’s had to miss a lot of things. He’s missed my birthday 9 years in a row."
"It can be hard. But it’s okay because he’s coming back next year," she added.
After telling the judges that her father was her biggest inspiration, the young singer delivered a powerful pop take on Lonestar’s 2001 country smash “I’m Already There.”
Hedges, who was accompanied by piano, showcased her impressive soprano range and received a standing ovation from the judges.
“You have a big voice for a small body,” Perry said, before Bryan added, “You did a great job. I mean to be 15 and to navigate your falsettos. I got a little scared because you were using falsetto a lot. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. She’s not going to be able to go big, then, ‘Oh! She just went big. She’s got a big voice.’ So you did a great job.”
Judges then set aside their commentary to offer Hedges a few surprises. First, they revealed that her father had sent her a video message. They invited her to join them at their table to watch the clip.
“I wanted to tell you I have nothing but pride and admiration for you,” Hedges’ father begins in the clip. “I know I’ve missed many holidays, birthdays, and major life events for you, but I just want you to know that no matter where I am, I’m already there. So take a look around.”
That’s when judges motioned Hedges’ to turn around, to which she did, and noticed her dad was standing in the room.
“Oh my gosh! Stop,” a surprised Hedges said as her jaw dropped.
The two then shared a hug before Hedges went to grab her mom to pull her into the audition room.
But that wasn't all.
After the Hedges family drew tears with their heartfelt reunion, judges presented the hopeful with one of the three platinum tickets. Tyson Venegas, who performed Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” also received a platinum ticket during the American Idol premiere.
Hedges and Venegas will now be able to sit out and assess their competition during the first round of Hollywood Week. Fans can keep up with American Idol Sunday nights on ABC.