Alyssa Wray showed off her confidence with a soulful version of a ’70s classic to advance to the Top 16 on “American Idol” Sunday.
The 19-year-old from Perryville, Kentucky, sang “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” which Roberta Flack made famous in 1973 before the Fugees covered it more than 20 years later.
Lionel Richie was all smiles from the judges table as Wray began her performance. Katy Perry got out of her chair and led out an audible “Whoa” after one of Wray’s runs.
“That was totally a vibe,” Perry said, according to video posted of Wray’s performance. “And then when you went into that run, whenever it came in it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never heard you in that way.’ You were actually an artist for the first time in my eyes today.”
Judge Luke Bryan said Perry took the words out of his mouth and that the Kentuckian put a modern twist on the song.
Richie commented on Wray’s confidence before giving an exemplary compliment to the Northern Kentucky University student.
“It was just a stellar performance,” he said.
Later in the episode, Wray found out she made it to the Top 16 of the show. She’ll find out Monday night if she is among the 12 finalists.
During last week’s Top 24 performance, Wray sang a duet with former “Idol” star Katharine McPhee. She also wowed with a cover of a song by Carrie Underwood, who won the fourth season of “Idol” in 2005.
Wray first caught the attention of the judges when she performed “I Am Changing” by Jennifer Hudson during her audition round.
The whole experience feels like “an alternate universe,” she told WCPO earlier this month.
“I feel like I’m in a movie, and I know that sounds so cheesy,” she said. “I’d watch movies growing up, for so long, of Los Angeles, and I’d never been. And I said I never would because I never wanted to ride a plane, but now that I’m here, it just feels like a different life.”
Voting for the Top 12 closed Monday morning. Wray will find out her fate during Monday’s episode at 8 p.m. ET.