This past Sunday, American Idol host, Ryan Seacrest, and the panel of judges got super emotional in what would be a ‘first’ for the show. It all started with Seacrest, who saw a woman, Courtney, a 22-year-old security guard, sitting on the street outside the building where the auditions were occurring.
The host decided to approach her, where he learned about her aspirations for becoming a musician. While Seacrest was blown away from her story, he was afraid that she wouldn’t have an opportunity to audition, stating that the producers were unlikely to add any more to the long list already in the books.
Seacrest was determined to at least bring her to the set and see what they’d tell Courtney. For the host, the worst thing that would happen would be telling her ‘no’, although he cited that it would be more difficult to say that to her face. Seacrest shared his interaction with Courtney and the plan they devised together.
“I was walking down the street and Courtney was on the corner and she was sitting there and she looked very sad and I said, ‘What’s going on?'” he said, explaining the situation to the judges. “She said, ‘Well I showed up to audition, but I think I missed the deadline. But this is my dream and I’ve wanted to do this all my life.’ So, I grabbed her and brought her up the elevator.”
— Ryan Seacrest (@RyanSeacrest) March 2, 2020
Seacrest told her to come with him, but there was no guarantee that she’d get her chance to audition in front of Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. Still, they were willing to give it a try. “The solution to that problem is me just taking you up there and seeing if they let you go,” he told Courtney. “I can’t promise you because I haven’t asked them, but at least if we get up there, they have to say no to your face which is probably harder.”
After explaining the unlikely and completely unorthodox method, the Idol host shared that he doesn’t even know what Courtney sounded like, but was going out on a limb. “No one has heard of her. We don’t have any idea what she sounds like,” he said to the judge panel.
— American Top 40 (@AmericanTop40) February 29, 2020
The story came as a shock to the judges, who instantly were taken back by Seacrest’s idea. “Are you kidding me?” Lionel Richie asked. “This is a first.” Fortunately for Courtney, and the rest of the world, she was granted the opportunity to audition, singing Andra Day’s ‘Rise Up’. The performance by Courtney blew all of the judges away, with Luke Bryan even questioning if they were being ‘Punk’d’, a reference to a show where people are unsuspectingly pranked.
“Are we being punked?” Bryan said. Katy Perry got in on the action, even saying that she personally saw Courtney on the sidewalk but didn’t think much of it. “Hold on,” Perry said. “Before the show started, I saw her sitting outside on the sidewalk. I thought you were just a fan of the show? You can sing!”
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) March 2, 2020
Richie was equally blown away by the audition. “No, you can sang!” the judge said. “There’s a difference between singing and sanging. You are a bird, girl.” Perry made sure to let Courtney know that she was by far the best singer they had heard that day. “You’re one of the best singers we’ve seen today!” Perry emphatically exclaimed. “You’re probably the best singer we’ve seen today. Courtney Timmons, this is really magical. This is a magical moment. We’re going to send you to Hollywood.”
Courtney was in shock with tears falling down her face. Seacrest and Perry were also emotional. It was a truly powerful moment, one that will stick in the minds of fans for years to come. After the show, Seacrest took to social media to share the beautiful moment and the emotions they had. “I’m crying,” he wrote next to the video. “@katyperry is crying. America is crying. We’re all crying. Courtney was the #AmericanIdol curveball we didn’t know we needed. So proud of her.”