'American Idol' Judges Brought to Tears by 19-Year-Old Songstress Who Was Once Homeless

Claudine Varela
Mar 07, 2019
10:22 A.M.

"American Idol" premiered its new season with an emotional episode. Judges were moved to tears after a contestant revealed she was once homeless and relied on one thing to keep her going. Katy Perry cried realizing they had something in common.


American Idol’s new season began on a tearful note. Judges were not only moved by their contestant’s performances but with their stories as well. One of them who goes by the name Kai the Singer drove Katy Perry to tears because the Idol judge realized they both shared a common past.

Kai walked up the stage armed with her guitar and golden voice. The first song she sang was Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” which didn’t feel right for one of the show’s judges, Lionel Richie. When he learned that Kai knew how to play the piano too, he decided to give her another chance. The result was her moving rendition of “My Girl” assisted by her piano playing skills.


“You’ve got such a beautiful soul,” Katy remarked after her performance while a choked up Luke Bryan chimed in and said,

"When you got on the piano, it truly started stirring many, many emotions in me. Quite frankly, I don't know how kids like you, I don't know how you pony up and make it here."

In response to Luke, Kai replied, “my church” which got Katy asking “Your church sent you here?” as tears started forming in her eyes.


Before her performances, Kai explained that she “grew up kinda rough,” explaining her family didn’t have a permanent address.

"My whole childhood, we were in and out of shelters and hotels, we were even homeless once and living in the car. But I thank God for the car."

But despite her efforts to try to stay positive, she says “It’s still tough financially. There's eight people in the house right now, and only two of my brothers have beds, and it's like a bunk bed.” She says she sleeps on the floor but that doesn’t keep her from being thankful for her life and what her family has.


Meanwhile, Katy revealed she could very well relate to Kai’s situation sharing she too was a product of the church.

“I don't want to compare our situations but I was raised in the church, too,' Katy said, fighting back tears. “I didn't grow up with money and money was always the problem. It was the cause of everything not-great in my life.”

She also revealed her family lived on food stamps and moved a lot because her parents were traveling ministers. In fact, it was the church that bought her her first guitar when she was 13.

Coincidentally, Kai revealed her guitar was also purchased for her by her church. “So I relate to what you’re saying,” she tells Katy.


Katy assured Kai that she was an inspiration. Lionel likewise told her, "'You are here for a reason and a purpose. God can only do for you what he can do through you.."

The audition, though tearful, ended up in a positive note when judges agreed Kai was worthy of having a shot on the show.

But Kai wasn’t the only contestant who hit a judge’s soft spot that day. Luke was greatly affected by their final contestant, 26-year-old Nick Townsend who lost two of his brothers after they took their own lives. Luke revealed he too lost two of his siblings. His older brother died in a car accident in 1996 and his sister followed in 2007.

Luke encouraged Nick to continue to “fight and just be a light for your parents” and Nick agreed it’s what his siblings would have wanted.

"I can't quit. I just know that they would want me to keep going."


Nick also got the judges’ seal of approval to move to the next round so fans will be seeing more of him in the show.

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