Two familiar faces appeared on the fourth week of season 21 “American Idol” auditions, airing on March 19, 2023. Fans got to see season 20 winner Noah Thompson and runner-up HunterGirl welcome a new “Idol” hopeful onstage during one of their joint concerts.
Twenty-one-year-old contestant Mariah Faith of Conway, South Carolina, impressed celebrity judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie so much during her Nashville audition that they gave her the chance to open for Thompson and HunterGirl the next night at local live music venue SkyDeck on Broadway. The “Idol” alums, who became close friends during the show and have performed together many times since, filmed the segment on November 11, as previously reported by Heavy. Here’s what you need to know:
Contestant Mariah Faith Says Performing With Noah Thompson & HunterGirl Was a ‘Dream Come True’
During her audition, Faith told the judges that her family moved from Baltimore to a small town in South Carolina when she was eight because her step-dad, whom she called her “best friend in the whole world,” wanted her to have lots of opportunities to explore her musical gifts.
“He heard that I could sing and was like, ‘That’s it, we’re moving. She don’t need to be here, she needs to be where people can help her, you know?’ So he moved me out to South Carolina and then I started singing, playing piano, doing dance classes. Somehow he just knew I deserved to be singing.”
Sadly, in the spring of 2019, when Faith was a senior in high school, her step-dad suffered a fatal heart attack. Crushed by his loss, she said she didn’t know how to go on but decided that in order to keep making music, she had to “suck it up.”
When Perry thought Faith sounded a bit too timid on her audition song, she stopped her and asked if she could sing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt, who has a raspy voice like Faith. The 21-year-old nailed the song, according to the judges, even bringing tears to Bryan’s eyes.
“You are on the edge of greatness,” he told her.
Faith was stunned when the judges invited her to open for Thompson and HunterGirl, telling producers, “I definitely feel like my daddy was in the room with me today, definitely gave me the boost I needed.”
“Idol” showed Faith performing a bluesy, soulful rendition of Morgan Wallen’s “You Proof” and excitedly meeting Thompson and HunterGirl backstage.
“Performing on this stage means so much to me,” she said on the episode. “All the doubt I ever had as an artist or in myself just got swept completely away from me. It feels like a dream come true to know that I could be in their shoes. It’s like, literally, just give me a year! Tonight has definitely been, like, the best night of my life.”
What Are Noah Thompson & HunterGirl Doing Now?
During the “Idol” episode in which they welcomed Faith to the stage, Thompson said, “It’s hard to believe a year ago today we were auditioning for this show and now we’re standing here and one of the contestants are coming to open up for us!”
Both he and HunterGirl have had a whirlwind 10 months since being named the winner and runner-up of season 20. Both have toured across the U.S. and have released singles. While HunterGirl hails from Nashville, Thompson moved there in early 2023 from Louisa, Kentucky, so he can focus full-time on his music.
Thompson, who will turn 21 in April, got a record deal with BBR Music Group and BMG as part of his “Idol” prize and has released several singles since his win. He first released his country cover of Rihanna’s “Stay,” which he performed on “Idol,” and a song he wrote for the show, “One Day Tonight.” In October, he released “Make You Rich” and he’s been urging fans on Instagram to pre-save his next single, “She Gets It From Me.” He’s been working in the studio recording new music he “can’t wait for ‘yall to hear,” he wrote recently on Instagram.
When HunterGirl thanked her on Instagram for the opportunity, Wilson wrote, “Love you girlfriend! Thank you for getting the party started last night 🔥🙌”
HunterGirl’s single “Red Bird,” which she performed on “Idol,” shot to No. 1 on iTunes’ All Genre and Country charts, according to Country Chatter, and released her second single, “Hometown Out of Me,” in October. She has multiple tour dates scheduled, including opening for Parmalee and her former “Idol” judge Bryan.
In addition to Thompson and HunterGirl, “Idol” alum David Archuleta made an appearance on the episode. The 2008 runner-up spoke virtually with 16-year-old contestant Paige Anne, who shared photos of herself at age six wearing a t-shirt with the singer on it because she was such a fan. Archuleta, who also appeared on the show at 16, gave the teen tips on auditioning with confidence. His insights may have helped, because she received a golden ticket to Hollywood with yes votes from Bryan and Richie.