Dawson Slade relied on a Justin Moore hit to convince Luke Bryan to send him through to American Idol's Hollywood round.

The 17-year-old brought his mother and baby boy to the audition. She listened nervously through the door while holding baby and waiting for a final verdict. It took two tries.

  • American Idol airs on Sunday nights on ABC.
  • Season 22 of the reality show began on Feb. 18. Additional weeks of auditions will follow.
  • Earlier this month, Katy Perry shared this will be her final season as American Idol judge.

Related: 10 Things American Idol Doesn't Want You to Know

Slade performed Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance," and while all three judges praised the performance, Lionel Richie said the young man just wasn't ready yet.

"I'm hearing ton of songwriter vibes," Bryan says. "I'm not really hearing screaming artist vibes."

Next, he asked what else the singer knew:

A performance of Moore's 2016 hit "Somebody Else Will" benefited from some realtime coaching from Perry and Bryan. She told him to sing to the back row to open up his inner-star.

When he finished, Perry gave an enthusiastic "Yes!"

Bryan wasn't as sure. He struggled with the decision, but eventually told Slade he'd be going to Hollywood.

Who Is Dawson Slade?

Dawson Slade is a 17-year-old from Moulton, Ala. who now lives and works on a ranch in Goodlettsville, Tenn. His 8-month-old son's name is Stetson, and as of Feb. 25, it's not clear if he's married or dating. In fact, he refers to being a single dad in a TikTok post shared last October:

Moulton is a very small town in northern Alabama. The local high school is Lawrence County High School and it looks like Slade played football for the Red Devils as recently as two years ago.

The first sign that he was interested in music came on his Instagram page in a pair of pics shared in 2021. "Gotta Start Somewhere," he wrote at the time.

Since then, nearly every photo he has shared to Instagram has been of him with a guitar in hand. He also has 10,000 followers on TikTok.

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