“American Idol” judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie aren’t new to meeting talented singers. Not only are they extremely gifted artists in their own right, but spotting incredible voices is literally part of their job for the TV show. So, it’s a pretty big deal when one of them is moved to tears. But that’s exactly what happened to Richie when 17-year-old Shayla “Shayy” Winn stepped up to sing.
Winn was left legally blind after the doctors found a tumor in her brain. She told the judges her story before she began singing her chosen “American Idol” audition song, “Rise Up” by Andra Day. All three of the judges were impressed by Winn’s resilience, especially after learning about what she had to go through to get to where she was in that moment — standing in front of three famous musicians for a chance to be cast on a hit TV show.
But, they were even more impressed once Winn opened her mouth to sing. She belted out Day’s “Rise Up” in a beautiful, powerful way. Her voice will give you chills. And if you’re as moved as Richie, it’ll bring you to tears.
See her full audition, which aired on March 6, in this video from the “American Idol” YouTube channel:
The judges agreed that Winn has something “they can not teach.”
“Here you are, with all of your story — you walk out here with all of the confidence in the world and just deliver your spirit. And you touched me,” a teary-eyed Richie said.
Needless to say, Winn was invited to continue on to the next round of “American Idol” — which definitely shouldn’t come as a spoiler considering just how moving her audition truly was.
While Winn didn’t necessarily know what to expect out of her audition, she has high hopes for her time on the show.
“You don’t know what they’re looking for, what they’re thinking,” she told WRIC of her trepidation before the audition.
But now that she’s been selected to move on and appear on the show, she’s hoping she can encourage others, especially those living with a disability.
“I want to say, ‘don’t let anything stop you from doing what you love and what you dream to do,'” she told WRIC. “Keep on pushing on, you got this.”
And she’s living proof of that. Who else is excited to watch her progress on “American Idol?”
“American Idol” airs on Sundays at 8 p.m./7 p.m. central on ABC.