American Idol Contestant Sings In Public for the First Time and Makes Lionel Richie Cry

For 15 seasons, American Idol has made us laugh, cry, and experienced all kinds of emotions. If you’re an avoid watcher, you probably love the initial auditions where people from all different singing backgrounds come out to show the judges what they’ve got (or don’t have). And this season has been no different.

We’ve met lot of contestants, but one stands out among the rest: Kelsie Dolan. Originally from small town Boone County, Kentucky, Dolan was raised by her grandparents, who always tried to get her to sing in public because of how they felt about her voice. However, she was too shy to.

Sadly, Dolin’s grandma passed away just a year ago from various heart problems as well as getting COVID-19. Ever since, Dolan has seen multiple ads pop up online for American Idol. She had a strong feeling this wasn’t just retargeting ads playing tricks on her—she felt like it was her grandmother giving her a sign to try out.

And, well, she decided to! When she got on stage, viewers might be able to tell she was a bit timid. But the moment she busted out her rendition of “Piece by Piece” by Kelly Clarkson, it was obvious she had insanely strong vocals.


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The judges wanted her to come out of her shell just a bit more, and asked her to sing her second song, which was When We Were Young by Adele. During the song, the judges kept telling her to really go for it, singing louder and bolder than ever before. And when she hit those notes, they were blown away.

“Hey, do you know how many bad notes you hit on that last song?” one judge, country singer Luke Bryan asked her when she was done. “Zero,” he followed up.

“It sounded really good, you are very special,” second judge, Katy Perry, added.

The third judge, Lionel Richie, was especially moved by Dolan’s voice. He was so blown away that he actually had to wipe away tears by the end.

“This is the only person I know who has walked in here and messed me up completely,” Richie said.

“If we could give you a hug a day to just let you know how beautiful you are, you would understand why we’re crying,” he added.

No wonder she earned three unanimous ‘yes’ answers—off to the next round Dolan goes! We can just imagine her grandma beaming from above.

To hear Dolan sing, and see Richie moved to tears, check out her amazing audition below.

What do you think of Dolan’s singing voice?