On the season premiere of the long-running music competition American Idol, the judges – Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan – were surprised when 15 year old contestant Grace Franklin revealed her familial roots.
As it turns out, the Detroit native and teenager is the granddaughter of one of the most revered vocalists in history: Aretha Franklin.
“I was really close to my grandma,” Grace said on the show before her performance in front of the judges. “I gotta see her all the time. I used to travel with her a lot. I don’t think I could fully grasp the fact that she was known worldwide, because to me, she was always just grandma.”
Despite her connection to The Queen Of Soul, Grace asserted her style of singing was totally different from her grandmother’s. She then went on to deliver a rendition of The Fugees’ cover of “Killing Me Softly With His Song.”
While Bryan didn’t take a liking, both Perry and Richie asked the young vocalist to sing another song, as they were on the fence about her. At their request, Grace switched things up and performed another song: a version of her grandmother’s classic, “Ain’t No Way.”
Grace’s second go-around at auditioning for the judges was well-received
However, Bryan declined to move Grace to the next round. Katy on the other hand praised Grace’s rendition of her grandmother’s song.
“I loved your rendition of your grandma’s song,” said Perry. “Your runs are really, really great. They’re very controlled.” Grace’s fate was then left in the hands of Lionel Richie.
“I love you and I think the best thing for you in life is to take a shot at going backwards. Go back and get a running start and come at this again,” said Richie.
Ultimately, Richie voted no and encouraged Grace to overcome her shyness and audition for a future season, prompting Katy to walk off the set in a jest protest.