Luke Bryan Praises ‘American Idol’ Contestant Vahhley’s Fight as She Earns a Ticket to Hollywood [Watch]
Twenty-three-year-old Vahhley is headed to Hollywood after impressing American Idol judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie on Sunday night (March 14). The Brooklyn, N.Y., native impressed them all with her voice, but Bryan in particular was also taken with her story.
Vahhley and her young son MJ are currently living in a homeless shelter, as is her father, Alfredo, who accompanied his daughter to her Idol audition. New York City's ABC 13 shares that Vahhley moved into a shelter in the Bronx, then in Brooklyn, after living with her mother following the dissolution of her marriage. It was the shelter's director, in fact, who encouraged Vahhley to audition for American Idol.
"This audition is such a big deal for me," Vahhley shares in a pre-taped package that accompanied her in-person audition for the Idol judges. She teared up as she explained her situation, admitting, "As a parent, you wanna give your son everything, and when you don't have the ability to do so, it hurts you. I just wanna be the best mother that I could possibly be."
When she stepped into the audition room, Vahhley offered sincere appreciation to Bryan, Perry and Richie before launching into Whitney Houston's "One Moment in Time." "I want one moment in time / When I'm more than I thought I could be / When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away," she sang.
Perry was visibly impressed, standing up as Vahhley hit the song's peak. Richie, too, could be seen moving his hands and quietly voicing his approval. Bryan, meanwhile, watched her sing with his arms crossed, but had praise for her after the performance.
"I think your singing is real good, but your fight is incredible," Bryan offered. "I think you're more of a delivery of a real, real meaningful lyric."
Joined by her father and son, Vahhley received three "yes" votes from the judges, unanimously moving her on to Hollywood Week. "Unfortunately," Bryan started his response, building up some suspense, "you're gonna have to load that little fellow up and come back to Hollywood."
"I want you to believe that you are worth it," Perry told Vahhley, "and I hope that this 'yes' helps you on your way."
Now in its 19th season, American Idol concluded its auditions on Sunday night. Hollywood Week begins this weekend (Sunday, March 21 and Monday, March 21); the show airs at 8PM ET on ABC.
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