Grace Kinstler has made it to the Top 3 on “American Idol,” but not without the support of her family.
Since the beginning of her journey on the 19th season of the ABC show, the 20-year-old Lakewood, Illinois native has grappled with the loss of one of her biggest supporters, her father.
During her “American Idol” audition, which aired in February of 2021, the Berklee College of Music student revealed that her father had died the year before in 2020.
Following her performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, which earned her a golden ticket from the judges, Kinstler told the cameras that she felt her father’s presence in the audition room, and that comforted her.
“I felt him when I was in there, and it really helped me feel like he was here, and like I could do it, and I did it,” she said. Later on “Idol,” during a March episode, she’d dedicate her Showstopper round performance to her dad with the song “Father” by Demi Lovato.
Here’s everything you need to know about Kinstler’s family:
1. Kinstler Says Father Was Her “Biggest Cheerleader”
Kinstler’s father, Mitch, died in February 2020 at the age of 64, according to his obituary.
In an interview with the Boston Globe published on April 30, 2021, the “American Idol” finalist said she learned her father had died while she was attending school in Boston.
“I was at Berklee. It was like 7 a.m. and college kids, we usually sleep in. But something told me to pick up the phone. My brother was like, ‘Hey, you should start looking for flights home today. They just took dad to the hospital and he’s not breathing,'” Kinstler told the outlet.
Before her audition on “American Idol,” Kinstler told the judges that her father, who was her “biggest cheerleader,” died “unexpectedly.” However, he had been sick throughout her childhood, battling cancer twice, according to her interview with the Boston Globe. She told the outlet that music, especially singing and playing the piano, helped her get through her father’s illness when she was younger.
2. Kinstler’s Mom Supports her Dreams
Kinstler’s mom, Sherry, is proud of her daughter.
During the Mother’s Day special on “American Idol,” which aired on May 9, 2021, contestants sang tunes inspired by their moms. Kinstler chose one of her mom’s favorites: Adele’s “When We Were Young.”
Prior to Kinstler’s performance, her mom, who was watching from home, recorded a video message to Kinstler, which aired during the episode. In the video, she spoke about how “happy” she is that her daughter found her “true love with music.”
3. Kinstler’s Childhood Revolved Around Music
Music was an integral part of Kinstler’s childhood.
In an interview with the Boston Globe, Kinstler said karaoke was a favorite pastime for her family. Her dad’s go-to song was Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” When she was just 8, her dad filmed her singing her own rendition of Aretha Franklin’s hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” the song that would later earn her a golden ticket on “American Idol.”
ABC’s “American Idol” was also a family favorite. The Kinstlers would watch the show together when Kinstler was younger.
4. Her Hometown Treats Her Like Family
After making it to the Top 3 on “American Idol,” Kinstler visited her hometown on May 18, 2021, to celebrate.
And celebrate they did.
According to ABC 7 Chicago, Kinstler was welcomed home with a parade and hundreds of fans lining up just to see the reality TV star.
Among Kinstler’s fans was her former choir teacher, Kim Scherrer, who told ABC 7 that back in high school Kinstler “had an energy and a spark that is definitely a unique characteristic,” adding, “We are so excited and so thrilled to cheer Grace on. I cannot think of a more deserving person to have this honor…”
During the festivities, Kinstler told the outlet that chasing after her dreams is “everything my dad ever wanted for me and my family ever wanted for me, so I’m so grateful and I’m so honored to be here.”
5. She’s Dating a Musician
Per Kinstler’s Instagram, it looks like the “American Idol” finalist is dating fellow musician Joseph Wheatley.
According to Wheatley’s Instagram account, he’s a musician from Boston, who is graduating from Northeastern University in 2022 and is part of an acapella group.
In an Instagram post published by Wheatley on January 27, 2021, showing the couple embracing, he wrote in the caption: “I’m so proud of everything you’ve accomplished and who you are. I’ve never met anyone quite like you; I’m a lucky guy❤️.”
According to Stars Offline, the two have been official since November 2019.
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