Music

'American Idol': Cecil Ray Covers Tracy Lawrence, Duets With Jimmie Allen

American Idol contestant Cecil Ray covered a '90s country legend before joining a current country star for a duet on Sunday night's (April 4) episode of the ABC singing competition.

A cover of Tracy Lawrence's "Paint Me a Birmingham" continued Ray's push to follow in judge Luke Bryan's pop-country footsteps. The Easter episode of Idol also brought us Ray and Jimmie Allen's performance of the Allen and Brad Paisley duet "Freedom Was a Highway."

The all-star duet further drove home that Ray's vocal delivery and stage presence lend themselves to mainstream country.

As Katy Perry points out, Ray seemed a lot more natural during the duet than he did while covering Lawrence. Lionel Richie added further encouragement for Ray to become more comfortable on-stage.

"I just saw myself onstage about a hundred years ago," Richie said. "It's stage presence and attitude. Your hand got stuck in your pocket and you haven't pulled it out yet...Attitude is what we need now."

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Allen's involvement continues a long tradition of country singers giving back to the business by aiding younger talents.

"I'm here because somebody decided to help me, and if I can be that for Cecil, I'm down for it," Allen said.

Allen also sang "Shallow" from the A Star is Born soundtrack on Sunday with Alanis Sophia.

Additional superstar duet partners were Ryan Tedder (Cassandra Coleman, Deshawn Gonclaves), Katharine McPhee (Alyssa Wray, Willie Spence), Ben Rector (Wyatt Pike, Graham DeFranco), Brian McKnight (Alana, Andrea Valles) and Joss Stone (Anilee List, Grace Kinstler).

Cecil Ray Baker, a 20-year-old resident of Cameron, Texas, got this far in part because of his Showstoppers round performance of Leon Bridges' "Beyond."

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'American Idol': Cecil Ray Covers Tracy Lawrence, Duets With Jimmie Allen