American Idol is back and serving up another generation of superstars in the music industry. This season the grandchild of a legendary singer took her shot at stardom: Aretha Franklin’s 15-year-old granddaughter, Grace.
Looking just like her stunning grandmother when she was in the early stages of her Motown career, the nervous teen stepped in front of the judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. She understood the big shadow she walks in because of her family lineage. “I feel like people expect me to sing exactly like her, but I am my own artist and I have my own voice,” she said in a video clip. She started off by singing Lauryn Hill’s version of “Killing Me Softly,” which showcased her beautiful voice, but it was a little tentative when it came to emotion.
It was Perry, who offered her support, and asked her to sing another song, which, of course, paid tribute to her late grandmother. Singing “Ain’t No Way” with more confidence, Grace looked hopeful at the judges as they rendered their decisions. Right off the bat, Bryan declined to pass her through to the next round, saying she lacked “command” of her performance. As the nurturing judge on the panel, the “California Gurls” singer leaned right into her mentoring side. “I think you have stardust and sparkle all over you,” Perry said. “You are beautiful, and if you’ll trust us, if you’ll listen to us, if you’ll put in the work, I think we can find that next level with you.”
That left it up to Richie to make the dreaded decision of giving Grace a chance to make her American Idol dreams come true. “I think the best thing for you in life is to take a shot at going backwards. Go back and get a running start and come back at this again,” he advised. He wants to set her up for success rather than push her too early in her career, so working on her shyness is going to be a big part of work before she auditions again. But we must give a lot of R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Perry for advocating for Grace to get her moment on the show.
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