Season #2 of the “American Idol” reboot kicked off on Sunday, with an impressive set of auditions, but perhaps none was more emotional than that of “Kai the Singer.”
The 19-year-old aspiring songstress first won the over the judges’ hearts with her story, and then her song.
“I grew up kinda rough, but I wouldn’t consider it rough,” said Kai. “My whole childhood, we were in and out of shelters and hotels. We were even homeless once and living in the car. But I thank God for the car.”
Though her life has consistently been marked by a struggle to simply survive, Kai has always maintained a positive attitude of gratitude for what she does have.
“It still is tough financially,” she admitted. “There’s [sic] eight people in the house right now, and only two of my brothers have beds, and it’s like a bunk bed.” While Kai’s sleeping arrangement is a blanket on her bedroom floor, she says she’s still very “thankful” for it.
Charged with emotion after sharing her story, Kai’s nerves got the best of her when she began her guitar-accompanied rendition of “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran.
Lionel Richie redirected the hopeful singer to the piano where her unique voice and passionate soul melted the judges as she sang The Temptations’ “My Girl” with her own lyrical twist.
“You’ve got such a beautiful soul,” Katy Perry remarked.
“When you got on the piano, it truly started stirring many, many emotions in me,” added Luke Bryan said. “Quite frankly, I don’t know how kids like you, I don’t know how you pony up and make it here.”
“My church,” Kai answered with a beaming grin.
“Your church sent you here?” asked Perry, as more tears filled her eyes. “I don’t want to compare our situations, but I was raised in the church too, and I didn’t grow up with any money, and money was always the problem. It was the cause of everything not great in my life. We had food stamps and ate at the food bank, all that stuff because my parents were traveling ministers and so when I was 13, the church bought me a guitar.
“That’s where I got that one from,” replied the teen, pointing to her own acoustic guitar on the floor.
“Exactly. I relate to what you’re saying,” continued Perry. “And I think it’s so beautiful, and I think it doesn’t really matter where you come from,” she continued. “I know it’s so hard, this struggle, and you’re an inspiration to so many people by getting here today.”
Watch the beautiful encounter between Kai and Katy Perry unfold below, and be sure to grab the tissues for this one!