During Wednesday’s second episode of “American Idol,” Luke Bryan reunited with his 15-year-old buddy Ethan Payne, a Georgia resident who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just a baby. Two years ago the Make-A-Wish Foundation helped Ethan perform at one of Luke’s concerts, then the country superstar surprised the teenager by giving him his personal guitar. When Ethan stepped into his “American Idol” audition, Luke immediately filled with pure joy. “Oh my goodness, I know this feller,” he declared with a smile. Watch the performance video above.
A confident Ethan told Luke, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, “I just came out here to show you all my talent, especially this beautiful girl.” A surprised Katy replied, “Ethan, you are 15 going on 30,” and Ethan grinned back, “They always said I had an old soul.”
Ethan had no qualms about asking Luke to join him for an impromptu duet of “Do I,” which Luke agreed to even though he readily admitted he was “physically nervous.” After their performance Luke came to the realization that auditioning must be “a nightmare for these kids; I don’t know how these kids do it, y’all.”
“You, young man, you’re an inspiration,” raved Lionel. “I’m hoping that the whole world understands what they’re watching here because it really is a fabulous, fabulous blessing.” Katy chimed in, “Ethan, I loved your confidence — the way you spoke to Luke. I feel like you could do anything, especially when you have the spark of talent, which you do have.”
Ethan easily received three “yes” votes from the judges, which meant he’s going to Hollywood. Later on Ethan called his audition “the best day of my life.” He said, “I think of Luke as like a father figure. I felt honored, I felt like I was one of his own. We harmonized, we did stuff that was unrehearsed and it went perfect.”