American Idol Crowns New Season 17 Winner

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Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie said it over and over again. Season 17 of American Idol, the second season on ABC, was one for the books. The talent was incredible from Hollywood on, and each elimination round was more difficult than the last. The weeks and process of going from the Top 10 to the Top 3 were unimaginably hard, but during the May 19 finale, it was excruciating.

[RELATED: Luke Bryan Questioned One “American Idol” Contestant’s Country Creds]

Still, America voted and chose 18-year-old Livingston, Louisiana native, Laine Hardy as the season 17 winner.

It’s unclear what musical format Laine will pledge to, but his rural roots, down-home personality, and husky voice would make him a welcome addition to the country family.

During the finale, Laine’s solo performances included covers of Marc Broussard’s “Home,” Hank Williams Sr.’s “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home.” He then joined rising country star Jon Pardi on Jon’s recent hits, “Dirt On My Boots” and “Night Shift.”

Perhaps one of the most tender moments of the night, though, was during Laine’s hometown visit. Sitting around the dinner table with his family, Laine’s MawMaw was sharing how proud she was of her grandson when she began crying and was unable to finish speaking. The humble and grateful singer, then dropped a few tears of his own, hugging his young niece who told him he was “the best uncle I could ever have.”

This wasn’t Laine’s first attempt at Idol success. He auditioned for season 16 and while the judges loved his voice and were charmed by his personality, he wasn’t quite ready for the competition. He hadn’t planned on auditioning for season 17 but instead arrived as an accompanist for a friend. After being recognized by the judges, they coaxed him into singing a song. Having made remarkable strides since the former season, he was offered a golden ticket to Hollywood and was apprehensive, but eventually took it. Unfortunately, the young lady he played guitar for didn’t make it past Hollywood, but for Laine, it was written in the stars.

Congratulations Laine!