Cay Aliese auditions for "American Idol"

'American Idol': Cay Aliese Honors Late Father, 'AGT' and 'The Voice' Singer Nolan Neal, With Original Song

Auditions are still underway on the current season of American Idol on ABC, and contestant Cay Aliese brought a touching story and song to the judges on the latest episode.

The singer from Dandridge, Tenn. explained that her inspiration for being a musician comes from her father, who passed away two months before her audition from a drug overdose. As she continued telling the judges her story, she revealed that her father, Nolan Neal, competed on both America's Got Talent and The Voice throughout his career, but his addiction made it difficult for him to stay consistent. Aliese describes her dad as being "in and out" of her life, but the two always connected about music.

"He was a light to other people, but he couldn't find that for himself," she said.

In honor of her dad, Aliese opted to play a portion of a song she wrote called "City of Nashville." The song details her experiences of taking trips to Nashville and playing music with her dad.

The performance left judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie on the fence about Aliese's fate in the competition. Perry shared that she didn't feel "emotionally connected" to the song, but she enjoyed Aliese's voice.

Richie felt similarly, saying Aliese has talent, but she needs to learn how to emote while she's singing and "calm down."

Bryan said that Aliese has a "unique sound," but gave her a note to not "be afraid to soar."

"This is a singing competition," he says. "We do preach being able to connect emotionally, so we want you doing that, but we want you really singing too."

Despite their hesitations, the judges each voted "yes" to send Aliese through to the Hollywood round.

American Idol airs every Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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