Watch: Calvin Upshaw’s Emotional ‘American Idol’ Audition

Calvin Upshaw American Idol

ABC/John Fleenor

Each season of American Idol brings hundreds of hopeful contestants to television screens across the world, and season 4 of ABC’s reboot has been no different. One of those talented hopefuls in 2021 was Calvin Upshaw, whose audition aired alongside a touching story of his past and his hopes for the future.

Upshaw was able to audition in front of American Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. For his audition, Upshaw sang “Falling Out of Love,” and the judges were unsure as he sang, though they seemed to appreciate how much heart he put into the song throughout the performance.

“That voice crack was not a vocal crack, it was an emotional crack,” Richie told the contestant.


Upshaw’s Performance Was Emotional

Inspiring! Calvin Upshaw Bares His Soul For The Judges – American Idol 2021Calvin Upshaw lays it all on the line, performing his emotionally-charged rendition of “Falling Out” by Calvin Richardson for his American Idol audition. Calvin has overcome many obstacles throughout his life and hopes the challenges he has faced will inspire others like him. Lionel Richie commends Calvin on his bravery, strength and vulnerability. Watch here…2021-02-22T01:40:38Z

Upshaw’s performance was extremely emotional for all three of the American Idol judges, as it was for the contestant, who started crying when the judges praised him following his song.

“What you’re carrying on your shoulders is… I couldn’t even imagine,” Richie told the contestant.

Perry and Bryan both had praise for the performer as well.

“Listen, Calvin, today is a new day!” Perry said. “Don’t forget that.”

Bryan felt the same way, telling Upshaw, “There’s a small percentage of people that could walk out on American Idol and start singing from their soul, and it was right on the money!”.


Upshaw Has an 8-Year-Old Son

Upshaw’s backstory included having spent time in prison and now trying to set a good example and give his 8-year-old son a good life.

“This feels like a new beginning, a new start,” Upshaw said. “It was amazing.”

Upshaw shared his audition on his Facebook page, writing, Mississippi, we deep on American Idol, pure talents.” He received dozens of compliments from friends following the post. He also shared a post about getting further in life, writing, “I know a lot of people might talk about me because of my past but it’s about what you learn from your mistakes.”

“Y’all, it is impossible to watch a human being go through that without giving them love,” Bryan said after Upshaw’s audition.

Bryan recently opened up to People about the hardest part of filming the show this time around.

“The interesting thing is just trying to navigate all of the new rules of COVID-19,” Bryan said. “One tricky thing is a lot of times during the audition process, contestants will get very, very emotional and it will be an emotional situation for them.”

He added, “The fact that me and Lionel and Katy can’t walk out there and do the human element – hug and show support and love, is very, very tough.”

Bryan said that he feels it’s very important to be able to support contestants when they get emotional during the audition process.

“I think that’s one thing you’ll see as a viewer of me and Lionel and Katie,” he shared. “When someone is hurting and they’re motional, you want to console them and hug them and love on them to help them through. The fact that sometimes we can’t go put our arms around them is pretty heartbreaking.”

American Idol airs on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC until live shows begin later in the season.

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