American Idol‘s 20th season kicked off on Sunday (Feb. 27), and saw a bevy of singers auditioning for a chance to compete on the show. Though most hopefuls sing songs by popular artists for judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, Taylor Fagins used his time in front of the panel to sing a powerful piano ballad titled “We Need More” that he wrote about the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
“Ahmaud Arbery, you went for a run because you probably felt free/ Ahmaud Arbery, your run had an end that nobody could see/ Little Black boys don’t run outside or play with water guns at night/ They run away from red and white blue lies/ And little Black boys don’t go to stores or use their pockets anymore/ Can someone tell them what they’re living for?/ They want more,” Fagins sang for the song’s first verse while playing the grand piano.
He continued, “Breonna Taylor, I bet your sleep felt so peaceful and pure/ Oh, Breonna Taylor your peace was ended by police burglars/ Little Black girls don’t close their eyes or walk the streets alone at night/ They turn their cameras on when they see white/ Little Black girls don’t open doors or use their pockets anymore/ Can someone tell them what they’re living for?/ They need more.”
Following Fagins’ performance, Richie was visibly moved and remarked that it is unfortunate that songs like his are needed in 2022. “I wasn’t birthed onto what was happening until the ’60s, and those songs were there too,” noted the “Say You, Say Me” singer. “What I’m emotional about is, we need your song in 2022. I’m disgusted. That was very powerful. I’m very proud of you.”
Bryan later chimed in and called Fagins’ audition a “magical” experience, while Perry stated she was glad he decided to share his songwriting talents with the world. The auditioned ended with a resounding yes from all three judges.
Watch Fagins’ audition in full below.