Throughout its run, American Idol has discovered talented singers and propelled them into stardom. Now, the show has also used its platform to spotlight a powerful story of resilience and hope. Trey Louis, a 21-year-old mattress salesman from Texas, auditioned for the 21st season of American Idol. After a sweeping rendition of “Stone” by Whiskey Myers, he spoke to the judges about what it meant for him to be on that stage, not leaving a single dry eye in the room.
After the three celebrity judges—Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Like Bryan—gave him a standing ovation and praised Louis' singing abilities and compared him to country star Chris Stapleton, Bryan asked why he was auditioning for American Idol. Louis explained that he was from the town of Santa Fe, where in May 2018, eight students and two teachers were slain by a gunman who entered the school. “I lost a lot of friends,” he added.
Perry broke down in tears. “This is not okay. You should be singing here because you love music, not because you had to go through that. You don’t have to lose eight friends,” she said. “I hope you remind people that we have to change.”
“We have tolerated it for too long and that it’s become the norm,” Richie solemnly added. Perry then pleaded to Louis, “We’ve got to change and I hope you can just lead. Can you do me that favor?” The younger singer determinedly responded, “For myself, for my school, for you—you got it.”
When voting time came, the three judges gave him a resounding yes, with Bryan even struggling to talk as his voice broke. Ending the audition on a happier note, the celebrities got up to give Louis a hug and go through the cheerful protocol of announcing that he has made it to the next round. “That's what I'm talking about. I'll see y'all in California, baby!” the composed yet merry Texan singer announces as he stepped out of the room.
“It’s important for me to share my story from my hometown. For Parkland, for Columbine, for Las Vegas and so many others,” Louis said after the audition. “What we go through every day because of what happened is terrible. There is light, there is positivity. You just have to go chase it. Santa Fe, I’m not stopping. I got all the motivation behind me. I’ve got all of you guys behind me,” he said.