“American Idol” has kicked off its 17th season. Ryan Seacrest is back and better than ever, and the judging panel is ready to make a star shine.
While veteran fans might miss the unstoppable trio of Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul, there’s still so much to love about the show that gave America a voice long before “The Voice” made its debut.
With the familiar faces of music icon Katy Perry, classic favorite Lionel Richie and country superstar Luke Bryan judging the contestants, there’s no telling what this season might bring.
‘American Idol’ judges advance several purported potential winners — including musical prodigy Alejandro Aranda and legally-blind artist Sh https://t.co/7NPAykvt3E@MonsterCastings pic.twitter.com/PTqphGWBXr
— Monster Castings (@MonsterCastings) March 7, 2019
Though the season has only begun, we think Bryan may have found his season favorite. Call it a hunch, but our guess is pretty solid on this one.
When 15-year-old Ethan Payne stepped into the room, it was clear he and Bryan were no strangers. Their history is incredible.
As a baby, Payne was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The genetic disease cannot be cured and will affect this young man’s lungs and organs for the rest of his life.
“I never ever saw singing in my future,” he shared before his American Idol audition.
Still, his struggles have only made this Macon, Georgia, native stronger and more determined. At age 13, Payne had only one dream when it was his turn to “Make-A-Wish.”
It turns out this teen has his very own idol, someone he looks up to. Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Payne got to meet his favorite singer up close and in person.
That meet and greet was a dream for Payne, but Bryan upped the game when he invited the teen out on stage to sing a duet with him at his concert.
— Luke Bryan (@LukeBryanOnline) March 7, 2019
“I felt like the whole world had just shut down and it was all me and him,” Payne said. “My heart genuinely exploded. I wanted to cry.”
A dream come true, but that wasn’t the end of Payne’s musical journey. After Bryan gave him his very own guitar, Payne kept working toward his goal.
His confidence is infectious. This young man has faced so much but he hasn’t let any of it stop him from getting right where he belongs: in front of a panel of judges, singing his heart out with Bryan by his side once more.
Watch this dynamic duo as they perform Bryan’s “Do I.” We may have found this season’s winner, folks!
It appears Bryan was more nervous than his partner! It’s obvious he thinks highly of Payne, too.
“#EthanPayne came to one of my shows and outshined me,” Bryan tweeted. “Now he came to @AmericanIdol and did it again.”
We can’t wait to see what else Payne has in store for us this season. To catch more of him and the other amazing contestants, watch “American Idol” on ABC, Sundays at 8/7 Central time.
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