The nearly 19-year-old Alyssa Wray was one of 12 of the top 24 contestants to perform for the first round of voting on Season 19 of ABC’s American Idol. Like the other 11 performances, The Northern Kentucky University student selected one solo performance and a duet with guest celebrity singers.
Wray boasted her brazen vocal talent with a theatrical rendition of Carrie Underwood’s “Something in the Water” before teaming up with former American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee for a soulful tribute to Whitney Houston, performing “I’m Your Baby Tonight.”
As usual, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie offered their critiques, but their responses to Wray’s performance were more optimistically constructive. According to Bryan, she evokes a “star sparkle.” Richie offered further praise, saying Wray and McPhee “complement each other so well.” Perry layered advice into the high marks sharing, “One thing to think about is when you’re singing, especially in your solo, is don’t think about the feeling you should have—just be the feeling. Because it can get a little, like, polished, perfect.” she adds, “Don’t be afraid to get dirty with it.”
On Twitter, Wray described her the opportunity to collaborate with the like-minded McPhee as “an electric moment,” further noting she is “Feeling the love.”
Other highlights from the April 4 round of Top 24 solos and duets include another 19-year-old college student Alanis Sophia, a breathtaking performance of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow,” with the former Idol contestant Jimmie Allen. Bryan describes that Sophia “owned the stage.” Wyatt Pike, 20, teamed up with Ben Rector for a duet of Rector’s song “Brand New.” Pike shared that he performed one of Rector’s songs at his high school graduation. 21-year-old caretaker, Willie Spence, matched the soaring vocals defined by Céline Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” in a dazzling duo with McPhee. Anilee List put a twist on Billie Eilish’s “My Future,” with haunting vocals before she and Joss Stone performed an energetic take on Rufus and Chaka Kahn’s “Tell Me Something Good.”
Aspiring country act, Cecil Ray, evoked his traditional country influences with an aptly twang-filled performance of Tracy Lawrence’s “Paint Me A Birmingham.” Though powerful, the judges prompt him of the fragility of the process. Richie urged him to add “attitude” while Perry reminds him, “You’re the underdog here. Everyone wants to root for you, but you got to root for yourself.”
Voting is now closed for the April 4 contestants. On Monday, April 5, American Idol performances from the next 12 contestants continue at 8 PM ET on ABC.