There’s no question that reality show judges and coaches are often surprised at who they see and hear during the audition process. Some of the contestants are so incredibly good, it’s almost unbelievable that they aren’t already superstars. Others, not so much. And then, as happened with “American Idol” judge Luke Bryan, you might actually know the aspiring star.
During the second night of “Idol” auditions on March 6, 15-year-old Ethan Payne strolled into the room and Luke recognized him immediately. At the age of 13 Ethan, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, met Luke as part of the Make A-Wish program to grant wishes to young people coping with debilitating afflictions. After meeting and signing autographs, Luke coaxed Ethan out on stage to perform in front of 50,000 people.
Now, two years later, Ethan turned the tables on Luke, inviting him to help with the audition. Except, he didn’t really need his celebrity pal’s help. The capable young man sang Luke’s “Do I” with a pure and tender vocal delivery that oozed of country goodness.
“With what you’re dealing with in life, cystic fibrosis is just a very challenging disease, and the fact that you’re attacking life full-speed ahead, you’re not waiting around for it to affect you in any way is very inspiring. It’s an easy one for me,” Luke said following their performance.
It was an easy one for fellow judges Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, too, as they pushed Ethan on to Hollywood.
Afterward, Luke shared a photo on Instagram and wrote, “My boy @ethanpaynemusic put me on the spot but it was so much fun. #AmericanIdol.”