'American Idol' recap: Lionel Richie brought to tears by formerly homeless teen and her mom
American Idol exams continued this week, with a young contestant showing a performance so powerful it moved Lionel Richie to tears.
That person was Ronda Felton, 19, from Milwaukee, who came to audition with her mother.
"Growing up was definitely tough on my mother and me," said Felton, who was raised by her single mother. "We were homeless. We had to live in shelters and on couches and cars. It was tough, but I had my mom, so it was fine."
When host Ryan Seacrest asked Felton which song she and her mother liked to sing together, the teenager replied with "Zoom" from The Commodores. "Idol" judge Lionel Riche was a member of the funk and soul band from 1968 to 1982.
"Music made me realize what I can be, what I can achieve," continued Felton. "I'm here today because I want to be successful."
When Felton entered the audition room, she burst into what she called "tears of joy," which prompted Richie to offer her a handkerchief. The emotional Felton then unbuckled "One Night Only" from the musical "Dreamgirls".
Your performance clearly moved all three judges, but especially Richie.
"You came in and did something that nobody did tonight. It touches me so much that I cry," he said. "Every now and then life happens and then you imagine, 'How do I get out of this situation?' And God makes a crack in the wall. Just a crack. Just like any other crack that has always been there, but that crack is just enough for you to get through. And my dear, you just found that crack. Because that The moment was that will change your life. It's a yes to me. "
Felton also got a yes from Katy Perry, who told her, "You don't have to be strong. You just have to be Ronda. And that will guide you all the way."
Luke Bryan said yes to her too, noting that her best performance is still ahead of her.
When Felton found out she was going to Hollywood, she couldn't hold back her excitement. She ran from the room to share the good news with her mother before she even snatched her gold ticket.
'American Idol' recap: Katy Perry meets her country double, Luke Bryan predicts a winner
Felton brought her mother into the room to meet the judges. In tears, mother and daughter sang "Zoom" with Richie to celebrate.
"When I wrote this song, I was deeply concerned because I didn't know where I was going," Richie told the couple. "So if I touched you in any way ... you gave me the greatest gift I have ever given."
Another memorable audition came from Erika Perry, a 26-year-old college student who, despite her "government name," said she would rather "E.T."
And Perry didn't just want to prove to the judges that she could sing - she also wanted to prove something to her ex-boyfriend who recently fired her. After Perry claimed a place in Hollywood, she gave her ex a special message.
"Hey Stephen," she said straight into the camera. "You said I had no drive, no motivation. I wouldn't go anywhere in life. But hi, I'm going to Hollywood."
Perry held up her gold ticket and smiled sly.
She and Felton are joined in Hollywood by 21-year-old maid Christian McGuckian, 19-year-old real estate saleswoman Mary Jo Young, 22-year-old software developer Hunter Metts, and other eminent personalities.
The auditions will continue next Sunday (8 EST / PST).
Claudia Conway delves into her past for auditioning for 'American Idol'. Will she make it to Hollywood?
This article originally appeared in the US TODAY: 'American Idol': Former Homeless Teenage Boy brings Lionel Richie to tears
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