Nia Renee may only be 17, but her audition for American Idol made it clear that she’s going to be bringing some fierce competition into this mix this season. The Arkansas teen showcased talent, skill, and range that is uncommon for someone her age and the judges certainly took note– in fact, they were nearly speechless.
Katy Perry immediately called Renee the “Queen of Soul” after belting out the Aretha Franklin hit. Luke Bryan, meanwhile, said that the teenager was “born to do this.”
What made the audition all the more memorable was that Renee walked in on Bryan cow-tipping Perry.
Yes, you read that right. Perry wore a cow-print outfit, and the judges were joking around prior to Renee’s performance. So when she walked into the room, it was to see Bryan literally pushing Perry over. That’s something we’re sure she’ll never forget.
Here’s what you need to know:
Nia Renée Is Her Stage Name
According to an article in the Arkansas Times, Renee was born Tania Kelley, but goes by the stage name Nia Renee.
She shared with the outlet, “Singing is what I do.” Renee says she’s undecided on which college she’ll attend next year, but she knows that her focus will be vocal performance.
In high school, Renee is the president of the school’s theater department– she recently played the lead in “Once on This Island.”
The outlet highlighted that the preliminaries for this year’s Idol took place on Zoom, from the comfort of Renee’s bedroom. “It was so comfortable since I got to do it from home,” she said. “It was so well put together. They gave me a link, and I logged in on Zoom, and we all just waited in the waiting room and waved at each other. ‘Cause we were all looking at each other!”
‘To Be Able To Sit in Front of Them & Sing Was Unbelievable’
Speaking to the Arkansas Times, Renee admitted she was a bit starstruck upon meeting the panel of judges, which consists of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.
Meeting the judges, “was the best,” she said. “To be able to sit in front of them and sing was unbelievable.” She added that when she was told she would be advancing to Los Angeles for the next round of auditions, her family was “ecstatic. My mom was right there the whole time, and we were just so emotional, and just — I always dreamed for this to happen. All the emotions.”
Renee has already been coined an early favorite, even though only one episode has aired.
On Twitter, a number of new fans boasted that Renee is going to be the one to beat.
One person wrote, “Watching American Idol and Nia Renee is the next Aretha!” Another added, “Woo! Nia Renee of Little Rock killed it on American Idol! Raising hands Katy Perry said her voice had “a power.” Lionel Richie said, “Wow …. We’ve never had anything like that.” Haven’t watched this show in years and only turned on to see Claudia Conway. Gonna have to watch this season.”
American Idol airs Sunday on ABC at 8pm ET/PT.