The 20th season of “American Idol” (and fifth season on ABC) debuts Sunday, February 27, but you can already get a sneak peek of one of the early standouts. Cole Hallman, age 22 from New Jersey, is a recent college graduate who brings his “number one fan,” aka his loving sister Katie, to the audition with him. He explains how Katie was born with chromosomal deletion, which affects her IQ and behavioral issues. “I’m grateful to have her here — she keeps me calm,” Cole tells the camera before meeting the judges. Watch Cole’s tearjerker audition in the video above.
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Cole feels a bit “out of place” auditioning for the reality TV show since he hasn’t been doing music for as long as some of the other competitors. However, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan are quick to let him know that he’s not alone. “We still feel that way,” Lionel proclaims. “It never goes away, it just makes you better.”
Guitar in hand, Cole breaks into a soft-spoken rendition of Creedence Clearwater‘s “Lodi.” After the audition, Luke says he has an “authentic voice” and that he’s “singing from the right place.” Lionel tells Cole, “We may have a place for you in this competition.” And Katy raves, “Your heart is just in your voice. It’s so raw and passionate.”
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Cole brings his mom and sister into the room for the final judgment, but before the group gives him a “yes” or a “no,” they encourage brother and sister to sing together. Young Katie seems nervous at first, so adult Katy asks if she wants her to sing with them. Instead, the siblings break into a duet of The Rolling Stones‘ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
“Now he’s singing with freedom,” Katy recognizes. Luke agrees, stating, “He’s singing with life.” With Cole and Katie wrap up their tune, the judges give Cole their votes: it’s “yes,” “yes” and “yes”! That means Cole receives a golden ticket and will next be seen during Hollywood Week. What did you think of Cole Hallman’s “American Idol” audition? Sound off down in the comments section.