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Lionel Richie Calls Michael Rice’s Audition “The Most Emotional” He’s Seen On “American Idol”

A two-photo collage. The first shows a close up of Lionel Richie. His eyes are wide with shock. The second image shows a close up of Michael Rice with his eyes closed as he sings.

Although it’s common for singers to deliver an emotional performance when auditioning for American Idol, few have done it quite like Michael Rice. The 26-year-old flew all the way from the UK for this opportunity, and it’s one he’s been dreaming of since he was a kid. While his mom has always been supportive, his dad struggled with a drug addiction most of his life. They reconnected when Michael was 17 but, soon after, his dad died of a heart attack.

In having a parent with these struggles, Michael connects deeply with the song Because of You by Kelly Clarkson. It was fitting, then, that he sing this for his audition. As moving as it was for him to talk about his journey, nothing can compare to the raw emotion he shows when belting out the lyrics to this song.

If Michael is nervous while singing, it doesn’t show. Instead, he manages to make it all the more heartbreaking than the original. In turn, the judges are left speechless. Throughout the performance, they even look to one another as if to say, “Is this really happening?”

Michael Rice Delivers Unforgettable American Idol Audition

When his audition ends, Lionel Richie invites his fellow judges to join him in hugging Michael. Here, all three of them rave over the singer’s ability to express his emotions so beautifully through song.

Katy Perry and Lionel Richie hug Michael Rice as Luke Bryan stands next to them, waiting his turn.

“We have a lot of people that come in here and tell us a lot of things that are really horrible and tragic,” Katy Perry says. “But rarely do they then follow it up with telling their story through a song that someone else wrote like they wrote it themselves.”

Before Michael’s performance, he shares that he hopes to make his dad proud — there’s no doubt that he did just that.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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