American Idol has also been a family-oriented show, and this Sunday, it showcased a special, different sort of American family story — when 19-year-old Elizabeth Gaba showed up for her audition with both her mother and her biological egg donor.
Elizabeth’s rendition of Adele’s “All I Ask” was technically impressive; like all Adele songs, it is not easy to sing, and she pulled it off. But it was a very theater-schooled performance, and judge Luke Bryan told her, “You have a very pretty, polished voice. Don’t ever be afraid to throw in a little grit.” The real emotional impact came when the judges, upon hearing Gaba’s unique family background, invited her “two mamas” into the audition room.
Elizabeth, who goes by the simple stage name Gaba, was conceived by anonymous egg donation, and she recently found the donor, a woman named Amy, who she now considers to be one of her closest friends. And it turned out Gaba has inherited Amy’s talent: She’s a member of the same USC a cappella group, the SoCal VoCals, that Amy sang with years ago. (As it turns out, Amy donated her egg in order to pay for college — ironic timing, since USC has been in the news all week and that is apparently a lot more than unenthusiastic USC student Olivia Jade was willing to do.)
Amy joined Gaba for an audition-room duet on a second song, and their lilting voices were astonishingly similar, proving that music is indeed in Gaba’s genes. The moment was so magical that a crying Katy Perry — who told the three women, “Your story is a miracle” — attempted to call her own mom. Sadly, her mother’s voicemail box was full. But thankfully, so were everyone’s hearts.
These were Sunday’s other successful auditions:
Jacob Moran, 24: “Into You”
This kindly nursing home worker’s voice was high — at times almost painfully so — but most of the time he sounded, as Luke noted, a lot like Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox. That’s a big compliment! Jacob and Gary may be the only grown men around capable of hitting all the money notes in an Ariana Grande song. “If I didn’t have all my hairs lasered off, they’d be standing up,” an impressed Katy told Jacob.
Alyssa Raghu, 16: “Shark in the Water”
Alyssa — like Laine Hardy, who returned last week — was an early frontrunner last season, and she made it all the way to the top 24 on the strength of her voice. However, she lacked the stage presence and confidence to go farther. Well, what a difference a year (and some dance lessons) makes! This was a whole new Alyssa. She was so poised and professional on her VV Brown song, it seemed like she’d time-traveled from age 15 to 25. Lionel said she was “shining,” and Luke praised her “natural” and “comfortable” delivery. “I didn’t come to this far to only come this far,” Alyssa said of her decision to try out again — loosely and probably unintentionally quoting that should’ve-been-a-hit single by The Voice Season 13 winner Chloe Kohanski.
Colby Swift, 19: “Cast No Stones”
This tall Texan had a quirky, froggy voice, but there was something very charming about him. Luke called him “interesting” but “so unpolished.” Katy was intrigued, despite the fact that Colby was “inconsistent.” Lionel, despite all of Colby’s inconsistencies, was “in awe.” I don’t think Colby will survive Hollywood Week, but he has enough potential that maybe he can pull a Raghu and come back next season.
Evelyn Cormier, 19: “Wicked Game”
It annoyed me that Evelyn got Chris Isaak’s song title wrong (she said “Wicked Games,” plural), but I nonetheless found her booming, back-of-throaty Florence/Lana indie voice pleasing. Katy was especially pleased, telling Evelyn, “That’s literally one of my favorite voices I’ve ever heard in my life.” Lionel told her, “You have a sound that’s yours.” Evelyn will definitely stand out in this competition.
Ashley Hess, 27: “Don’t Know Why”
I can’t fully explain why, but when Ashley entered the audition room, I had this odd sixth sense that she might be this season’s winner. She just radiated, glowed. It was a similar premonition that I got early on with last season’s champion, Maddie Poppe. Ashley also gave me Brooke White vibes as she classily crooned Norah Jones at the piano with the smitten judges crowding around her. Katy got the same sense that I did, telling the likable Ashley, “I think you could win this whole thing.”
Peach Martine, 16: “Zombie”
Peach’s Stepford Teen shtick — cheerleader, straight-A student, all-around overachiever — had the judges accusing her of being a robot (or a zombie!) And there was indeed something about her that felt disingenuous. Her Cranberries cover was an embarrassment, all garbled vowels and fake-accent Dolores O’Riordan affectations. She’s lucky that the judges let her do a second song, a piano original, that was actually plucky and delightful and even a bit Gaga-esque. But her performance style was still too cutesy and calculated. “It feels like you were trying to ace the test,” Katy told her. I doubt Peach will ace Hollywood Week.
Dalton Elliott, 26: “Boy”
This dedication to his 3-year-old son was sweet and sincere, but Dalton kept eyes closed entire time, and Katy noted the strain in his face, which she said “started looking like a beet.” Dalton was connected to the lyrics, but not to his audience — and that will make it hard for him to stand out on a TV show.
Katie Belle, 19: “Golden Slumbers”
This modelesque Megan Fox lookalike claimed she was doing “the Jennifer Hudson version” of the song. I don’t care if she was doing the Bee Gees/Peter Frampton version from the Sgt. Pepper movie. This was just terrible. I thought Katie was a joke contestant, but Luke and Lionel — especially Luke — happily put her through to Hollywood. Gee, I wonder why? Katie was easy on the eyes, but golden slumbers must have been filling the judges’ ears if they thought she was golden ticket-worthy.
Lauren Engle, 27: “Compass”
This Idol season has been filled with heartbreaking stories, and Laura’s is one of the toughest. One year ago, Lauren was in a serious car accident with her husband Garrett, who did not survive. Now a young widow, she auditioned with her late husband’s brother accompanying her on guitar (Garrett used to play with her), gazing heavenward as she belted a gorgeous original ballad she wrote for Garrett. It was intense, and so very sad. Lauren choked up midway through, as did the judges and probably everyone watching at home. “Lauren, you are so strong,” said Katy. “[Garrett] was a lucky man,” Lionel said. The moment when they handed Lauren her golden ticket was truly moving. “Today, there’s still a purpose,” Lauren said through her happy tears. “Today was a really good day.”
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:
- ‘American Idol’ singer Wade Cota shares shocking tale of abuse survival: ‘My biological father was the devil’
- Singer’s tragic story brings Luke Bryan to tears on emotional ‘American Idol’ premiere
- Brave blind singer, Make-a-Wish kid bring the feels and tears on ‘American Idol’
- David Archuleta opens up about his post-‘American Idol’ PTSD
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