'American Idol' singer earns rare ticket after audition dedicated to birth mom

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

"American Idol" contestant Julia Gagnon did "something big" in her audition that she dedicated to her birth mom.

Gagnon auditioned for the singing competition in an episode that aired March 24, when she sang "Ain't No Way" by Aretha Franklin that earned her a standing ovation, three yes votes and the final platinum ticket of Season 22 from judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

But before starting her soulful cover, Gagnon shared that the performance was for her birth mother, whose full name is Sara Ramos, according to Portland Press Herald. The singer reconnected with her birth mom, thanks to her adoptive dad hiring a private investigator in 2020 to find her.

Gagnon was adopted at age 2 from an orphanage in Guatemala and was raised in Cumberland, Maine, by her adoptive parents, named Meg Gagnon and Jim Gagnon, according to the Portland Press Herald.

"My birth mom, she knows I can sing. She said that she would love to live to see me do something big. That's why I'm here. To do something for her," Gagnon said to introduce her performance.

"I felt really helpless because I can't go to her. Guatemala's really far. But she's really proud of my voice and she wanted to see me do something big," she added.

Gagnon launched into the song from there, with rising falsettos and deep whispers that showed off her range and breath control.

"Ain’t no way for me to love, for me to love you, if you won’t let me / It ain’t no way for me to give you all you need, no, if you won’t let me give all of me," she sang.

Her family celebrated outside the audition room as she sang, and the judges smiled and gestured along at times. After finishing, Gagnon appeared to wipe away tears and looked at the judges with glassy eyes. The judges gave her a standing ovation and wasted no time praising the performance.

"Um, did that come out of your mouth?" Richie joked in awe.

"I think so," Gagnon responded.

"When you hit the amazing falsetto, and then you turned the volume down to a beautiful ... ," Bryan started.

"Oh I loved that," Perry jumped in. "You've got, I think, several soul singers that are inside of you. Not just one. You've got several and you could go really far. You could be top 10."

Richie then added more to his initial response.

"I am in shock," he said. "I grew up with Aretha Franklin. There's certain songs you just don't sing because you just can't touch the original. And you just made it not only your song, but you did things that ... it's just beyond. That was amazing."

He casted the first yes vote from there. Up next was Perry, who asked for the name of Gagnon's mother.

"Which one?" the singer asked before responding with her birth mother's name, as Perry had requested. Perry then voted yes.

Bryan asked for the name of Gagnon's adoptive mother before casting the final yes vote. Perry handed Gagnon her platinum ticket, which lets her skip the first round of performances during Hollywood Week.

"When the judges asked for what my mom's name was, I distinctly remember saying, 'Which one,'" Gagnon said in a post-interview on the show after her performance. "I meant that because both of them have such an impact on me."

This article was originally published on TODAY.com