Though she didn’t make it into the Top 24 on “American Idol,” contestant Kelsie Dolin stole America’s heart during her journey on Season 20. The self-conscious teen from West Virginia was full of surprises — from the way she blossomed during the audition process to her surprise announcement days before her last episode.
On March 24, 2022, aware that the audition episodes she taped the previous fall would soon reveal her elimination from the show, Dolin overshadowed that announcement with another: the 2021 high school graduate revealed she was going to become a mom.
“Y’all!! I’ve been keeping a little secret…” Dolin captioned an ultrasound photo to Instagram, which was later deleted. “I’m having a baby and, It’s a…. BOY!!! Can’t wait to meet baby carter!!!”
Her surprise bundle of joy just arrived on Aug. 10 and the teen, who describes herself as “single” on Facebook and, according to the West Virginia Herald-Register, has been making ends meet by working at McDonald’s, is hoping to get a little help from friends and fans.
Dolin Brought Judges To Tears & To Their Feet
When 18-year-old Dolin first sang for judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, it was the first time the self-conscious teen had performed in public and she brought them all to tears with her sweet, pure voice and the story of her resilience.
Raised by her grandparents due to her mom’s struggles with addiction, Dolin tried out in honor of her grandma, who died of COVID on Sept. 1, 2021. Her grandma had often encouraged her to audition, but Dolin was too scared; she told the West Virginia Register-Herald in March 2022 that she had signed up to audition before, but was always too nervous to actually show up.
Weeks after advancing through online auditions and landing in front of the celebrity judges, she couldn’t believe they handed her a ticket to Hollywood. The judges told her she had “zero” bad notes, and were dabbing their eyes as she sang, clearly terrified but talented.
After making it through the Duet challenge during Hollywood Week with lots of help and support from her partner, former Miss America Betty Maxwell, Dolin developed major stage fright before her solo performance. Celebrity mentor Lauren Alaina worked with Dolin, giving her a moving pep talk, and the teen made it through her performance, receiving a standing ovation from the judges.
Dolin received another standing ovation after her Showstoppers performance before a packed theater, but the judges decided she wasn’t quite ready to move on to the live rounds.
”Kelsie, you have been our angel in residence,” Richie told her as they broke the news. “The best thing that we saw was that light come on inside of you. This is the new you.”
“I think ‘American Idol’ changed my life,” Dolin said through tears after her elimination. “I think the Kelsie before was very closed up and shy and beat herself down. I’m just grateful.”
Since being eliminated, she has periodically posted TikTok videos of herself singing.
Dolin Welcomes Baby Boy Carter, Needs Basic Necessities
After her “Idol” journey, Dolin’s pregnancy gave the teen something to look forward to; she periodically shared updates for fans on her Instagram Stories. On July 24, she shared a photo of a cake featuring a photo of her beloved grandma, looking as though she was holding an image from Dolin’s early ultrasound. The cake read, “Welcome baby…a gift from Heaven.”
On Aug. 8, Dolin posted another update that read, “Y’all it’s almost baby time!! Ya’ll please pray for me and the baby and for a healthy delivery tomorrow!”
The newborn didn’t arrive until Aug. 10, though. That evening, the new mom posted a photo on Instagram of herself and her baby boy, with a heart over part of her face.
She wrote, “Y’all meet carter lee James dolin!! He is so beautiful …so thankful for a healthy baby and a smooth delivery! Will be posting more soon!!! Love you guys!!”
Dolin posted a link to her Amazon baby registry on her social media accounts, in hopes that she might get some help with basic needs, including diapers and clothes for baby Carter. The registry includes a window air conditioner unit and a Diaper Genie. It also includes a “Diaper Fund” that, at the time of publication, had generated $255 in donations. Dolin also listed her Venmo account – kelsiedolin – for anyone willing to donate to her directly.