Both Philly-area contestants who made the cut for American Idol‘s season 16 premiere this week are on to the rebooted competition’s next round.
Langhorne’s Catie Turner, 17, and West Philly native Dennis Lorenzo, 26, are going to Hollywood thanks to unanimous yeses from judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan this week.
South Jersey’s Mara Justine, an America’s Got Talent veteran who reached the finals in 2014, will appear in Monday’s auditions episode.
Turner, who described herself as “a little awkward” in her introductory video, was the first audition that aired on the premiere. After admitting she “hurled” prior to her performance, Turner played “21st Century Machine,” an original song about media’s impact on young girls.
Perry commented that she loved “where [Turner’s] mind’s at,” while Bryan said she is “interesting and brilliant beyond [her] years. Richie, however, compared her to a space alien. In a good way.
“Every once in a while, a Martian lands, and we happen to see the Martian,” Richie said. “I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see you. I’m just fascinated with your brain.”
After making her promise to not look at social media because he didn’t want “the outside world to mess with” Turner’s head, Bryan agreed to push her through. Richie and Perry agreed.
“It’s like my child,” Turner told embattled host Ryan Seacrest of her golden ticket to the next round. “I want to give it a good college fund and raise it with good manners and to be successful in life.”
Lorenzo capped Sunday’s episode, telling Seacrest in his interview that he started playing at music when he was 16 because of “some rough things I was dealing with” at the time. Lorenzo’s father was murdered when the singer was just five years old, leaving him to be raised by his grandparents.
They bought him a guitar at 15 or 16, and he has been “singing and playing guitar literally ever since,” as he said on Idol. He eventually left Philadelphia for Los Angeles, and after living out of a tent for a while, got a job and started his life out West. From there, he got a girlfriend, with whom he has a child, and began pursuing his dream.
“Where I cam from, they call it the bottom,” he said.“It’s been a little tough, but I needed it. I feel like it’s a prerequisite. If you don’t have that moving forward, I feel like you can’t appreciate it at the top.”
He auditioned with a cover of Allen Stone’s “Unaware,” playing a beat up guitar with a hole in its top. Still, though, the judges were impressed.
““We see these kids come in and their parents have bought them the nicest guitar money can buy,” Bryan told him. “You just took a guitar with a hole in it and you made that thing, with three chords, have all the soul that it needs.”
Richie, meanwhile called Lorenzo “proof that it ain’t just the equipment.” All three judges pushed him through to the next round.
“I love you baby. Daddy’s going to Hollywood,” Lorenzo told his girlfriend and child following his audition.
The next episode of American Idol airs Monday at 8 p.m. on ABC.