Emotions ran high on the Feb. 26 episode of American Idol as one talented young contestant, Trey Louis, wowed judge Luke Bryan with his "perfect voice," then shared the heart-wrenching reason why he chose to audition for the show.
Louis, a 21-year-old mattress salesman from Santa Fe, Texas, earned high praise from Bryan with his impassioned rendition of "Stone" by Whiskey Myers.
"You've just got the perfect voice," Bryan said, stunned by Louis' talent. "You sing from the right spot. You let it come out of your heart, and that's what we love around here."
Bryan continued to heap praise on "Trey from the Fe," pointing out the shocking resemblance between Louis' voice and that of eight-time Grammy winner Chris Stapleton.
"You start wondering when the Chris Stapleton disciples will start showing up, and you've probably driven around in your truck learning Chris Stapleton and trying your butt to sing like him," said Bryan.
Now THAT'S a mullet, @treyfromthefe! #IDOL pic.twitter.com/lc0JERpaoQ
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) February 27, 2023
Louis confirmed his love for Stapleton, telling Bryan, "Yessir." But the young singer isn't only looking for a shot at the big leagues on Idol. In May 2018, there was a shooting at Louis' school, and he hopes to represent his embattled hometown in a positive light.
"A gunman walked into my school," Louis explained, to the shock and sadness of the judges. "I was in art room 1 and he shot up art room 2 before he made his way to art room 1. Lost a lot of friends."
Eight students and two teachers were killed in the tragedy, and Santa Fe has lived with that grief ever since, Louis said.
"It's just really been negative, man. Santa Fe's had a bad rap here since 2018."
Judge Katy Perry was overcome with emotion at the revelation, bursting into tears as Bryan and Lionel Richie offered the pop star a comforting pat on the shoulder.
"Our country has failed us," Perry said through tears. "You should be singing here because you love music, not because you had to go through that."
After receiving a unanimous 'Yes' from Perry, Bryan, and Richie, Louis hugged it out with the judges and promised Perry that he'd continue to be a "leader" for his community.
"For myself, for my school, for you, you got it," said Louis.
New episodes of American Idol air Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on ABC.
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