“American Idol” season 17 is probably our favorite season yet. And it might just be thanks to 27-year-old Lauren Engle from Redlands, California.
“Last year I was involved in a terrible car accident with my husband,” Engle said when Katy Perry asked her to share her story before the audition.
Engle and her husband Garrett met 7 years ago at a Halloween party. Engle recalled how her husband had been dressed up like a pirate. “I love pirates,” she said.
“We connected through music. He would play guitar and I would sing because I obviously can’t play guitar that great.”
Engle says it was her husband that brought her back to music and encouraged her to keep with it. The pair married in September 2014.
“It was definitely a special day,” Engle said, sharing how her husband was moved to tears.
Tragically, a year ago everything changed.
She and Garrett were in that car accident. Engle remembers waking up in the hospital and finding out her husband hadn’t survived.
“Losing him… made me realize I’ve got nothing else to do but to keep doing music and to honor him,” she said.
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I miss you. I miss all of you. But, missing you keeps my heart alive for you. The heartache will always be there… but I’d rather feel that than nothing at all. The plans we made are still plans that are being made. The laughs we laughed are still being laughed. The songs we sang are still being sang. Your spirit will always be alive, and I hope you see me thriving to be the best I can be every day. I’m the lucky one who knew you, who still loves you, whose life will forever be divided into a before and after because of you. But I’m also grateful for you. Grateful for the strength you’ve instilled in me. I just wish we’d have more time. We part only to meet again, and until then I’ll keep gripping it together, moving forward day by day for you, and for myself.
“No matter what you go through, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” Engle told Ryan Seacrest. “And I’m still trying to find it every day.”
“Singing together will always be something that I miss,” she added. “It was special. I know he’s cheering me on. I just want to make him proud.”
When she tells the judges she’s going to sing a song she wrote for Garrett, we lost it. It’s no wonder the judges got emotional, too.
“It’s called ‘Compass.’ Basically, it’s a timeline of our journey together,” Engle said.
Katy Perry said that Engle’s song was “beautiful” and called the widow “strong.” Perry even went on to say she felt the emotion and pain in the lyrics.
All three judges voted a “yes” and Luke Bryan called Engle’s country voice “solid.”
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That moment when all the vulnerability, all the tears, all the nerves, and all the moments of having to relive that tragic date becomes worth the fight. This journey has healed me, has made me stronger, has made me want to inspire those to keep chasing what they love and never give up. By the Grace of God, one step at a time. Be bright. Be bold. Be YOU ✨ @lionelrichie @katyperry @lukebryan thank you for your kind words. They will forever be instilled in my heart. I know G is proud. On to Hollywood week! #americanidol @americanidol
“He was a very lucky man,” Lionel Richie added. “Forget about the competition for a moment. You have a mission for the rest of your life to be you. Enjoy the ride. He’s right here.”
Engle hugged her brother-in-law, who played guitar during her audition, and then each of the judges in turn. All had tears in their eyes.
In the end, the singer admitted she has wondered why she survived the car accident. She said being on “American Idol” has helped her see she still has a dream and purpose to pursue.
“We all have a purpose and God will always shine through at the end of the day,” Engle wrote on Instagram.
“Keep pushin’, keep seeking that light, keep reminding yourself you are worth something,” she wrote. “You’ve been assigned this mountain, to show others it can be moved.”
Engle certainly has our vote! Her faith and courage are inspiring and we are so excited to watch her shine alongside the other hopefuls as season 17 continues.
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