The season premiere of American Idol aired on Sunday, February 14, 2021, and it brought with it a new round of hopeful contestants for viewers to root for. Grace Kinstler, the 20-year-old contestant from Boston, was one of the judge’s favorites of the night.
American Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie enjoyed seeing Kinstler sing.
Kinstler told the American Idol judges that she is a college student and would have had her father join her at her audition, though he died a few months before she made it to try out for the show.
“My biggest supporter was definitely my dad,” Kinstler shared. “He passed away last February very unexpectedly, so that was really hard. I know that he would be here with me if he were still here, so I’m gonna do this for him today and hopefully it goes good.”
Watch Kinstler’s Audition
Kinstler shared that she watched American Idol with her parents growing up and she always thought he would be with her on any audition; however, he died before he had a chance to see her take the trip.
Longtime American Idol host Ryan Seacrest told the contestant he felt like her dad was still there with them.
“I know, I feel like he’s chirping over my shoulder,” Kinstler shared. “Like, go get ’em!”
She said that she has learned to live every moment for herself and take every opportunity she possibly could following her father’s death.
“I just keep thinking about how much he believed in me and trying to believe that much in myself,” she told the camera.
Kinstler Brought Luke Bryan to Tears
Through her voice alone, Kinstler brought Luke Bryan to tears. For her audition, she sang “Midnight Train to Georgia,” and the judges were impressed as soon as she started to sing. At one point, Katy Perry was staring wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the talented artist.
“Grace, what a voice,” Perry told her. Luke Bryan wasn’t done with hearing her voice, however, and asked to hear a second song. When she said she was going to sing “Natural Woman,” Perry nearly warned against it, adding, “So, the legend that is Carol King wrote it, the legend that is Aretha Franklin sang it, you need to sing it like the legend you wanna be, okay? Tall order.”
Kinstler once again showed off her vocal abilities with the second song, and the judges were impressed once again.
“Oh my goodness,” Luke Bryan says with tears in his eyes. “Oh my goodness, woo man. You know, I get brought to tears by stories and backgrounds of what people have been through and their struggles, but this is the first time in four years that just someone singing made me cry.”
He added, “So just understand that your dad is very very proud of you right now. And what a lot to be proud of.”
Perry didn’t believe there was a lot of critiquing she needed to do because she got “full body chills” twice during Kinstler’s audition.
“That’s gotta be right up there with the Kelly Clarkson audition, the Jennifer Hudson audition,” Bryan told the young singer.
Kinstler received three “yes” votes and got her Golden Ticket to Hollywood.