American Idol judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan became visibly emotional when contestant Cam Amen sang a rendition of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah” during Sunday night’s (March 26) auditions.
Before launching into his passionate version of Cohen’s track, the judges asked Amen about his back story, in which he revealed that he and his siblings lost their mother and ended up in the foster care system. Once 18, Amen took care of his brother and sister until it was time for them to graduate, and tearfully shared he is now chasing his dream on Idol.
Accompanied by a piano player, he sang, “Now I’ve done my best, I know it wasn’t much/ I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch/ I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come here to London just to fool you/ And even though it all went wrong/ I’ll stand right here before the Lord of song/ With nothing, nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah/ Hallelujah, Hallelujah/ Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”
All three of the judges were noticeably moved by Amen’s rendition of the song, with Bryan visibly tearing up. “This is our sixth year here. Stylistically … your style is so beautifully unique. I don’t have anybody that I’ve seen in this chair to compare you to, and every time I wanted you to do something amazing, you did it,” he said. “It was just incredible. You came out of being upset and crying and just started singing like that. You didn’t even have all the tears dry.”
Richie added, “Cam, do you believe in divine guidance? It just happened, for whatever reason, that divine guidance brought you to us. And my friend, you are going to have one heck of a ride.”
After requesting Amen bring his girlfriend in the room, Bryan told his fellow judges, “He might be the best soul singer we’ve ever had.”
Bryan then revealed that Amen was the winner of a platinum ticket, allowing the hopeful to sit out the first round of Hollywood week. “This is the first time I ever went for something for myself, and it’s a dream,” Amen shared following the audition.
Watch Amen’s platinum ticket story unfold in the video above.