Kaylin Hedges Gets Sweet Surprise from Army Dad During ‘American Idol’ Audition

“Who is your biggest inspiration?” asked award-winning global icon Katy Perry.

Videos by American Songwriter

“My dad,” said American Idol auditioner Kaylin Hedges, chuckling nervously. “He’s in the military, so he’s stationed overseas.”

That’s how things kicked off for Hedges, who was in for one of the biggest surprises of her life and one of the biggest moments in it, too.

“I miss him,” she said.

“That’s very sweet,” added Perry.

The 15-year-old Hedges dedicated her performance of the song “I’m Already There” by Lonestar to her dad. She said she related to the song a “whole lot” because it highlights and explains the feeling of distance she has with her father not nearby.

Singing over an acoustic guitar, Hedges offered the judges—Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan—a beautiful rendition of the song with a full, rich voice, complete with vibrato. As she sang, she drew smiles and even a physical reaction from Perry, who stood from her seat.

“She’s got a big voice,” says Bryan.

Then Hedges got to see the video message her father sent her. “It’s your dad,” he began. “I miss and love you very much… I have nothing but pride and admiration for you… but I just want you to know that no matter where I am, I’m already there.” The words, of course, echoed the song she just sang.

Hedges was reduced to tears, saying, “That’s so sweet!”

But that’s when she got the surprise of her life. Hedges’ father was actually in the room to say hello to her.

“Oh, my God! Stop!” shouted Hedges in surprise.

Not only that, Hedges’ mom, who was there for her daughter, didn’t know her husband was there. So, she got the surprise of a lifetime, too.

“We did it twice!” said Richie.

Check out the emotional meeting and song performance, which earned Hedges a Platinum ticket (the one and only for that city’s audition, giving her a guarantee to Hollywood), below.

Photo ABC/Eric McCandless

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