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'American Idol': Texas Airport Security Guard Stuns Judges With Sam Cooke Cover

He has been dreaming of being a professional singer since he was 6 years old.

The new season of "American Idol" kicked off on Sunday (Feb. 18) on ABC, and one of the most emotional stories to come out of the first episode is that of Odell Bunton Jr.'s. The 28-year-old singer from Dallas took to the audition stage, telling the judges he works as an airport security guard. Although his current career is not in music, Bunton explained in his pre-audition interview that he has been dreaming of being a professional singer since he was 6 years old. Bunton is also a father of five, and he says his music took a backseat when he became a dad.

"I wanted to focus in on being the best father I could be," Bunton said. "My kids are definitely the most important thing in my life. The second most important thing is providing a great future for them."

The singer also talked about some of the hardships he has faced while providing for his family. He shared that his family currently lives in a hotel, and he hopes to be able to change their situation.

"I want better for them," he says of his children. "They deserve it because they are amazing kids."

"Being here in this place, in this position, it means everything," he added as the interview came to a close. "It gave me hope."

After introducing himself, Bunton launched into a rendition of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me." His soulful voice impressed the judges from the beginning, and his voice only gained power through the duration of the song. The judges were left in awe after Bunton showcased his range, power and vocal control throughout the audition.

Richie immediately approached Bunton after the performance, telling him he has "potential." Perry then shared a bold statement with Bunton, calling him "the best soul singer we have this season." Bryan agreed with Perry's statement, calling Bunton "incredible."

"It was one of those things where I had a chill hit my rib cage," Bryan added. "Then you hit another one, and my leg went numb."

Bryan then gave the 28-year-old some encouragement about his age, reminding him that country singer Jelly Roll won Best New Artist at the CMA Awards at the age of 39.

"You're never too late to get after this thing, and you're a great singer," Bryan said.

Earning the Platinum Ticket

Bunton not only received "yes" votes from all three judges, but they bestowed an incredible gift on the singer. During his initial audition, he received the show's golden ticket to Hollywood, but later, he was upgraded to a Platinum ticket. According to Parade, Bunton and his family appeared on WFAA news, and during the interview, Bryan appeared onscreen to give him the Platinum ticket.

"We loved your audition," Bryan reportedly said. "We gave you a gold ticket to get you to Hollywood, but we loved your audition so much, we decided to give you an upgrade. This year, we're giving out three platinum tickets and you get one of the three platinum tickets. You earned it. Celebrate with your family. We love you."

Bunton reportedly responded in tears, saying, "I don't have the words right now. I've been working really hard."

The platinum ticket is one step above the golden ticket, and it allows contestants to skip the first round of Hollywood performance entirely and instead watch from the audience.

"American Idol" airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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