‘American Idol’ Hopeful Oliver Steele Sings Straight to His Dad on Audition Week [Watch]
American Idol Season 21 was back on Sunday (March 26) with a final round of auditions before contestants take on Hollywood Week.
Country music standout Oliver Steele was a part of the pack who received a well-earned golden ticket. Before taking the floor in front of judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, the 25-year-old crooner shared a heartfelt story about his father, Toby — a former guitarist who made the trip to the Idol tryouts with him.
“[My dad] has been through a lot,” Steele shared. “He was a professional guitar player, especially in blues, and also an incredible songwriter and singer in his own right. Anytime he would pick up a guitar, it would make you stop, melt away, and listen to what he was doing for a while. It’s been hard because he can’t really get around. He had a stroke that basically severely affected the left side of his body. I just remember feeling very powerless. He’s part of the reason why I want to do this. It’s for him because he gave me everything.”
For his audition, which took place at the end of the two-hour broadcast, Steele performed an emotionally-charged rendition of The Beatles’ 1960s track “In My Life.” Steele’s effortless guitar playing and natural rasp on the cover earned him smiles of appreciation from the judging panel who seemed mesmerized over the entire display.
Afterward, judges, Bryan and Richie called Steele’s performance an “experience” before Perry took a moment to share her thoughts on the audition.
“You’re good,” she began. “I think when you were playing, you started looking up a little bit like wondering, ‘Do they like me? Do they like me?’ I think you started throwing it away a little bit. I think, you need to stay milking it because you’ve got that milky voice.”
“You’ve got a growl. Then you’ve got, you know, some skills. I mean, your dad should be very proud of you,” Richie added.
Richie’s comment made Steele emotional.
“He’s the reason I am here,” Steele replied as tears began to stream down his face.
That’s when judges asked for Toby to join them the room. Once Toby was with his son, the judges called for the hopeful to sing one of his dad’s favorite songs. Steele broke into Eric Clapton’s “Change The World," creating a moment that proved emotional for everyone in the room.
“We are so happy to have you,” Richie told Steele afterward as all three judges sent the contender through to Hollywood.
“You’re gonna have to take your dad with you,” Richie joked. “That’s your lucky charm right there!”
Hollywood week begins on April 2, when American Idol begins airing on Sunday and Monday nights on ABC.
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