Cay Aliese Honors Late Father on ‘American Idol,’ Judges on the Fence

The American Idol judges continued on their quest to find the next big thing in music after all the vanity fair that came with the 2023 Oscars on Sunday night (March 12).

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Among the hopefuls was Cay Aliese. Prior to performing a song titled “City of Nashville,” Aliese told the judges about her father who died from a drug overdose. Her father, Nolan Neal, was previously a contestant on both America’s Got Talent and The Voice.

Despite making a good showing on the talent competition shows, Nolan struggled to maintain his career with his addiction struggles, Aliese said. The singer didn’t realize her dream of making her own music until after he passed.

“He had his journey and now it feels like it’s opening a chapter for me,” she told judges before she performed her original song.

The track detailed her father life’s with poignant imagery, but after hitting the final notes, the judges told Aliese they were unsure if the emotion of her story was carried through in the performance.

“I think we heard the story and it was amazing but I think I’m on the fence,” Katy Perry said. “I didn’t feel emotionally connected.”

Lionel Richie echoed Perry’s sentiments, saying he needed Aliese to sound like she “cares” to be on the show.

Despite all three judges debating on whether or not to send her to Hollywood, they eventually “rolled the dice” and gave Aliese three “yeses.” Check out her audition below.

Season 21 of American Idol airs every Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Memorable auditions thus far in the show include Dany Epp (who sang Perry’s “The One That Got Away”), Elijah McCormick (who brought Richie to tears with “Bless the Broken Road”), Ashley Tankard (who finally made it to Hollywood after her 15th audition for the show) and Trey Louis (who survived a school shooting at Santa Fe High School in 2018).

Photo: ABC/Eric McCandless

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