‘American Idol 21’ episode 11 recap: Allen Stone mentors 13 finalists singing for their lives … how do you vote? [LIVE BLOG]

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“American Idol,” the iconic series that revolutionized the television landscape by pioneering the music competition genre, is back for another season on ABC. Helping determine who America will ultimately vote for to become the next singing sensation are music industry forces and superstar judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. Emmy Award winner Ryan Seacrest hosts the reality TV competition series for the show’s sixth season on ABC and 21st overall.

Tonight, the Top 26 chosen from Hollywood Week head to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii. Soul and R&B singer-songwriter Allen Stone mentors the hopefuls vying for America’s first open vote of the season. Follow along with our live blog for this episode airing Sunday, April 16 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EDT) on ABC, below.

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SEE Everything to know about ‘American Idol’ Season 21: Finalists, judges and celebrity mentors

You can vote for your favorite contestants until 6 a.m. ET/ 3 a.m. PT on Monday morning. There are three voting methods: the “American Idol” app, directly on the website or by texting their number to 21523. We will provide texting information for each contestant highlighted below.

8:00 p.m.Previously on “American Idol”! The Showstoppers concluded with the judges expanding the Top 24 to a Top 26. That still didn’t stop fans from being outraged when Fire was sent packing last Sunday, followed by fan favorites Paige Anne and Cam Amen on Monday. But tonight, the power is in YOUR hands as America will now decide who makes the Top 20. Part 1 of the Hawaii performances starts now!

8:08 p.m. — Kicking off the competition is Washington native Elise Kristine. She’s singing “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. Allen advises her to move around a bit more and shake off those nerves. She hits the stage and takes his advice to heart, working the stage while belting out the 80’s classic. Lionel says, “That’s the way to start the show!” Katy adds, “I didn’t smell one ounce of fear on you. You are fearless and you’ve got fangs.” Luke applauds her level of comfort. Text 1 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Elise.

8:13 p.m. Oliver Steele is next singing “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. Allen speaks with him about ways to draw the audience in as he performs. This is a low-key performance, but it’s got Katy grinning from ear to ear. He sounds fantastic! It’s the sort of song I’d like to hear beachside in Hawaii. Katy says the grit of his voice stands on its own and makes the audience “lean in.” Luke says, “You were your own artist and it was an awesome performance.” Lionel says Oliver showed us “his vocal identity.” Text 2 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Oliver.

8:22 p.m. — Buffalo, New York native Matt Wilson is up next with “Speechless” by Dan + Say. It reminds him of the best day of his life, his wedding day. Allen says he doesn’t really have many notes for Matt as long as the audience can feel who he’s singing to. Wearing a baseball cap and t-shirt, Matt looks comfortable working the stage. He builds everything up to a beautiful crescendo before kneeling down and finishing things off by singing directly to his wife. Luke says, “You’ve always been one of my favorite singers in the competition.” Luke adds, “I keep forgetting how silky that voice can be.” Katy has enjoyed seeing his confidence grow throughout the season. Text 3 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Matt.

8:33 p.m. — It’s Kaeyra‘s turn and she’ll be singing “Don’t Let Go” by En Vogue, which nearly makes Allen faint. He said it’s his favorite song choice of all the contestants. Kaeyra has an incredible stage presence and works it like a true diva. Overall, she sounds good, but it’s hard to compete with the impeccable harmonies of the original group that owned this tune. Lionel loves her voice. Katy says the song choice and Kaeyra’s delivery gave her “frozen stank face” and she hopes America is falling in love with her as much as the judges are. Luke says it was a “great performance.” Text 4 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Kaeyra.

8:40 p.m.PJAE reveals he was raised in the basement of a gospel church. His musical influences are rooted in soul and he’ll perform “Golden” by Jill Scott. Allen instructs PJAE to give the audience a big vocal run before the band enters, and that’s just what he does. I’m not certain this is the best song choice to compete for America’s vote for the first time, but he’s working it. Katy disagrees with me and calls it a “great song choice,” but she wanted a few more PJAE runs. Luke was perplexed by the first half, but still thinks it’s a great song choice. Lionel says PJAE “was absolutely in charge of every part of that vocal.” Text 5 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for PJAE.

9:00 p.m. — After Allen performs a Bob Marley cover of “Is This Love,” it’s Zachariah Smith‘s turn to hit the stage. The former burger flipper will sing “Lucille” by Little Richard as a dedication to his grandmother, who has the same name. Allen is stunned by Zachariah’s energy and says the 19-year old has everything he needs to take home the prize in this competition. He emerges in a glittering jacket with shoes to match, shimmying and hip-thrusting around the stage. Zachariah is a ball of energy, but he’s got the voice to back up his cheesy performance. It’s infectious, and I agree with Allen. I won’t be surprised if Zachariah Taylor Hicks‘s his way across the finish line. He even has the judges up dancing. Luke says, “You’re crazy! And stars are crazy.” Lionel agrees, “He’s out of his mind! That’s what we call show business.” Katy says Zachariah is “crazy talented” and applauds him for introducing the kids to Little Richard. Text 6 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Zachariah.

9:05 p.m.Mariah Faith is next singing “You Should Probably Leave” by Chris Stapleton. Allen coaches her to “sing it down” a bit in the first verse because “her voice is so special.” Her textured, raspy vocals definitely stand out in the competition. I’m just not totally convinced this will be a performance viewers remember at the end of the night. Lionel says she has her signature sound and should use it wisely. Katy appreciates Mariah’s “true grit” and wants her to milk it even more. Luke tells her to continue showcasing her “bluesy” style and show America what lane of country music she wants to be in. Text 7 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Mariah.

9:15 p.m.Emma Busse will be singing the Sam Smith hit “Lay Me Down.” Allen tells her “less is more” until the end. She needs to “tone it down.” She takes his advice to heart by opening up the song gently before gunning the gas towards the end. Katy says she’s never satisfied because she always wants more. “Those notes we don’t even know exist, you bring them out.” Luke says Emma is finding who she is as an artist. Lionel can’t believe she pulled that off with “human vocal cords.” Text 8 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Emma.

9:25 p.m. — South Carolina’s Warren Peay is next with “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. Allen tells Warren to add showmanship by chucking his hat into the audience during the final chorus. He has one of the best voices in the competition, and there is no denying he sounds great. That said, he looks a little uncomfortable as a performer without his guitar in hand. He declines Allen’s advice and doesn’t toss the hat. Luke appreciates Warren for singing an unexpected song. Lionel calls Warren’s voice “strong” but he could give even more. Katy liked seeing another angle to his personality and totally understands why he didn’t throw his hat. It’s his good luck charm! Text 9 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Warren.

9:33 p.m.Nailyah Serenity is up now singing “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Ripperton. Allen is stunned by her vocal range in that whistle register. For the actual performance, Nailyah delivers her best. We’ve never seen her this good, beginning the song on a stool, nailing THAT note and then jazzing it up for the final chorus. In the end, she goes even higher. It was a stunning performance that should pull Nailyah into the forefront of the competition for the first time this season. Lionel asks, “What was that? You went to the next level!” and calls her voice “martian-like.” Katy says Nailyah has an “Olympic voice.” Luke adds, “You have stardust all over you.” Text 10 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Nailyah.

9:42 p.m. — Tennessee teen Haven Madison is next singing “The Middle” by Maren Morris. It’s a shift in direction for the youngster that Allen encouraged her to take. We haven’t seen Haven sing uptempo numbers and this is a nice change of pace. Haven isn’t the best singer in the competition, but what she lacks in vocals she makes up for in feeling. I have little doubt she will be voted through, and I look forward to seeing her perform more of her original music. Katy applauds Haven’s style, but wants more control. Luke says Haven should embody her youthfulness, and this song almost took it there. Lionel says it’s okay to have some fun on stage and she should enjoy it. Text 11 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Haven.

9:50 p.m. — Next up is Arkansas native Lucy Love. She’ll be singing “What’s Love Got to Do With It” by Tina Turner. Allen can relate to Lucy because they both have young children the same age that they need to provide for. During the performance, Lucy works the stage, embracing hands from several members of the audience. It seems like Lucy is always on a “10” and it would be nice to see her just dial it back a bit and let the song build more. By the end she’s basically screaming the last note, likely because it’s difficult to go that hard, vocally, from beginning to end. Still, she’s one of the most likable contestants this season. Luke says he needs a chiropractor after watching Lucy’s moves. Katy applauds her for leaving it all on the stage for each performance. Lionel says the stage “is where you belong.” Text 12 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Lucy.

10:00 p.m. — The final performance tonight is the Hawaii native himself, Iam Tongi. When Allen hears Iam sing he calls his voice “incomparable.” Iam is feeling the pressure in his home state as he steps on stage to sing “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie. There really is nobody in the competition that can so easily captivate the audience with their voice alone. He just has a gift — and this song makes me want to head straight for the islands. Lionel says he had a “spiritual experience” and it’s one of the greatest things he’s ever witnessed. Katy calls Iam “authentic through and through.” Luke says it was special to see all the love for Iam in Hawaii. Text 13 to 21523 if you’d like to vote for Iam. That is a wrap for Night 1 in Hawaii. After tonight’s nation-wide vote, three of them will be eliminated next week. Tomorrow, the rest of the Top 26 will sing for YOUR vote.

Be sure to make your predictions to influence our reality TV racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs on CBS. You’ll compete to win eternal bragging rights and a spot on our “Survivor 44” leaderboard. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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