American Idol contestant Jon Wayne Hatfield
Screengrab via YouTube

'American Idol': Jon Wayne Hatfield Wows Judges With Original Song For His Grandpa

When American Idol hopeful Jon Wayne Hatfield walked into the judges' room, he did so with a song in his heart and lots of love for his grandfather Ray.

The 21-year-old Ohio native opened up to Idol judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan during his audition. He explained that he had an original song to share with the group that he had written about Ray, who had recently come out as gay.

Hatfield, who was raised by his grandparents due to his mother's fight with addiction, lost his grandmother a few years prior. But he was incredibly close with his grandfather, who made his way to Hatfield's audition in a show of support.

"I lost my grandma about three years ago," Hatfield explained. "After losing her, watching my grandpa was the hardest thing. He lost his best friend in 50 years. He wouldn't talk to anybody for about the first year and a half, not even me."

He wrote "Tell Me Ray" after his grandfather eventually came out to him.

"I got mad at myself because I couldn't fix it, and he wasn't ready, and I understand that," Hatfield admitted. "I didn't see what he was actually going through."

As Hatfield prepared to sing his original song "Tell Me Ray," the judges invited Ray himself to come into the room and listen as his grandson performed. Hatfield then gave a soulful performance as Ray looked on, tears streaming down his cheeks.

"Jon is the last person I told because I was scared he'd stop loving me," Ray recalled of his admission to his grandson.

"I just wanted to put it out there right away like, 'Hey, don't think that's going to change a damn thing between me and you, because my best friend, and you're my dad.'"

Hatfield's emotionally-charged lyrics made the country-tinged tune especially touching.

"Tell me Ray / 'Cause if I knew what was wrong / I could help you move on / You can't do it all yourself / We've had plenty of time / So keep me in mind / So tell me Ray," he sang.

When Hatfield was finished, he received a standing ovation, moving Richie to stand up and offer the crying Ray his own handkerchief.

"Oh my God. I don't normally do this. Ray, you need my handkerchief," he said. "Oh my God. I don't give those out but to special people. You are a hell of an inspiration, man."

He continued: "You know, part of us as people, we have to be encouraged and a lot of us don't get a lot of encouragement. A lot of us have to fight for it, and to have that kid write a song about you is just pretty special."

The judges were more than impressed as they praised the original song, and urged Hatfield to "keep telling" his stories before letting him know he'd be moving forward to Hollywood.

"It's a big relief to stand here and be proud and say I'm gay and there's nothing wrong with it," Ray said of the song and his experience. "My grandson, he's my rock."

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