‘American Idol’ Season 18 finalist spotlight: Faith Becnel is a ‘raw’ and ‘unpolished’ star Katy Perry refuses to give up on

“When I was 10 years old I started in a band of all boy,” explains Faith Becnel, a 20-year old server from Destrehan, Louisiana hoping to become the next “American Idol.” “It was called The Rowdy Rough Boys and a Girl. It was all rock music and I wore fishnet stockings and combat boots. It was nuts.” Becnel was one of 20 Season 18 finalists featured on the “American Idol” special, “This is Me” airing on April 12 and April 19 on ABC.

Besides being about music, “American Idol” is about people, their stories and their dreams. Host Ryan Seacrest narrates this deep dive into the contestants where we hear more personal stories, see highlights from their audition process and learn what it took for them to convince judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan to select them as finalists.

Becnel didn’t impress the judges right away, as Perry interjected herself within seconds of the aspiring singer belting out “Lady Marmalade” by LaBelle at her first audition. “Let’s take a little bit of of the hop out of it,” instructed Perry. “Less choppy!” Becnel began again, this time winning the “Firework” singer over with Perry responding, “You have this kind of undefinable ‘it’ factor. You are super raw and unpolished. You have the opportunity to be a massive star if you want to.” But still, Richie and Bryan were on the fence and Becnel barely made it to Hollywood.

“My first audition in Oregon was very uncomfortable for me,” admits Becnel. “I’m used to having a microphone and high energy. I’m definitely a fighter. You need to really be confident and feisty in this competition and I’m really excited to do that. That’s the Louisiana in me.”

SEE: ‘American Idol’ schedule update: Live shows start May 3, season 18 finale is May 17

“I’ve been in a cover band since I was 10,” recalls the southern rocker. “Being a musician has always been something I’ve loved. I’m passionate about it. Knowing that my dream is actually here and I’m having these opportunities is something I’ve prepared for and it’s a blessing and exciting.”

“Watching Faith on the ‘American Idol’ stage is every emotion that a dad could possibly experience,” says her father. “Knowing the dedication and sacrifice she went through. Watching her little nervous twitch — that means she’s in the middle of the song, she’s in it and she’s killin’ it. I couldn’t be more proud.”

SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now (Seasons 1 – 17)?

While Bryan and Richie continued to be skeptical of Becnel, Perry relentlessly fought for her in Hollywood. “I just think she needs to be there,” said the lone female judge. “I just love her so much.” Perry rallied behind her for the rest of Hollywood week and even in Hawaii as Becnel belted out “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan. “Looking into the crowd seeing my mom, dad, family and friends — that was so beautiful I was so happy,” says Becnal. “I was so happy and it just brought me back to home.” And with Perry on her side, Becnel advanced to the Top 20.

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