It takes a lot of confidence and a lot of nerve to put yourself out there for a group of strangers.
Even if it doesn’t mean performing on a huge national stage, learning to be vulnerable with others is often a lifelong struggle to master.
If we’re in pain or struggling with a big obstacle, we often don’t want others know because we don’t want their pity, or we’re afraid they will back away from us. On the other hand, it also takes courage to believe in your talents and abilities, and to share them freely with other people.
For both of those reasons, one contestant on American Idol was particularly inspiring.
The contestant in question was Ethan Payne, a 15-year-old singer from Macon, Georgia.
As he explains in the clip, Payne was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just 18 months old. For anyone who doesn’t know, cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that is progressive and has a severe effect on the lungs.
It affects around 200,000 people a year and can make life very difficult for those who have it. Despite all this, Payne remains optimistic, positive and interested in pursuing music.
And his passion actually got the attention of one of his musical idols, Luke Bryan.
Before he went on American Idol, he wrote to the Make-a-Wish foundation asking if he could meet Luke Bryan.
As it turns out, they fulfilled that wish and Payne and Luke Bryan met backstage at one of his concerts when he was just 13. At the end of it all, Bryan asked Payne if he wanted to come out onstage with him and sing in front of the audience of 50,000 people. Payne said yes and the two did a duet together, cementing their friendship.
Finally, Bryan gave Payne his own guitar to take home with him.
As a result of all that inspiration, Payne went to audition for American Idol for a chance to be face-to-face with Bryan once again.
Right as he steps into the room, Bryan recognizes him! He tells the judges that the doctors are more optimistic about his health than they were before and that singing is a kind of cure for him.
After everything, Payne asks Bryan to join him on the audition floor for another duet! After a moment’s hesitation, Bryan gets out there with him.
As it turns out, the song is “Do I,” which is one of Luke Bryan’s songs.
Although Payne takes the lead by singing and strumming guitar, Bryan joins in soon after.
While Bryan’s voice is reliably good, Payne does an incredible job all on his own—and he even starts serenading Katy Perry in the process.
Towards the end of the song, Bryan gets into it as well! At the end of it, the judges clap for them both and Bryan tells everyone in the room just how nervous he was throughout the show.
When it’s all over, the judges tell him that he’s a huge inspiration.
On the strength of his confidence and his promising talent, the judges vote him through to Hollywood!
Though there are plenty of talented individuals and inspiring stories on shows like American Idol, this one was definitely something special. Despite all the obstacles he was facing, Payne showed up in front of the judges and gave it his all—and it definitely paid off! Anybody who watches this performance is guaranteed to leave inspired.
Congratulations to Payne on making it through to Hollywood! Check out the full audition below:
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Source: YouTube/American Idol