On Sunday (Feb. 27)’s episode of American Idol, Aretha Franklin’s legacy was front and center. The late singer’s 15-year-old granddaughter, Grace, took the stage in front of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.
With it being her national debut, Grace did her best to amaze the judges with her personal renditions of Lauryn Hill’s “Killing Me Softly.” However, her nerves were noticeable, as pointed out by Richie and Bryan. They felt her performance was “subdued.”
As she sang her grandmother’s ballad, “Ain’t No Way,” her confidence shined through considering the close relationship the two shared. Though Bryan and Richie both said no to Grace moving onto the next round, the former Commodore quoted the Queen of Soul saying, “Her line was, ‘If you’re not ready for me baby, don’t come near me.'”
The men felt Grace needed to put some time and work into elevating her vocal range and abilities. However, Perry believed that this was the right moment for Grace to begin her career and was the only one willing to move her onto the next round. “I’m sure Aretha wasn’t Aretha when she walked into the room, but somebody said, ‘Yes, I wanna work with you. I wanna develop you. You got something,'” Perry exclaimed.
With the judges in disagreement, Perry ended up walking out of the room, but Richie begged Grace to “trust” their decisions. “Go back and put the shyness behind you and the voice in front of you, you are going to be something amazing,” he said to her.
Watch Grace Franklin’s full audition above.