A 23-year old Salisbury, Maryland native nabbed the final Platinum ticket on the 20th season of American Idol.
Jay Copeland got acclaim from the judges – Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan – with a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”. At the end of his performance, all three judges gave him a standing ovation.
“I was just going to say that. You’ve got some great teeth brother. I’m going to tell you something,” Richie said.
“I’ve been alive a very long time and you don’t just jump on a Stevie Wonder song and do boxing with Stevie Wonder. You controlled it, you did it, you owned it and, on top of that, you were having so much fun.”
Copeland explained that he was slated to attend graduate school for acting this year However, given that his time on American Idol would conflict with his time in school. Copeland was given an ultimatum: music (Idol) or acting (grad school). Copeland chose the former, losing his fellowship and funding for grad school in the process.
“You might have lost the gift they were going to give you for your master’s, but the gift you are going to give ‘American Idol’ is greater than anything you’ve ever imagined. Your talent is off the chain. There’s nothing to study [anymore.] We needed this. We’ve been waiting for you to walk through that door. I’m so happy you showed up.”
He eventually nabbed the season’s final Platinum ticket, which allows contestants to bypass the first round of Hollywood Week.
“Lionel said it. We’ve been waiting on a kid like you,” Bryan said. “You are going to be able to electrify a crowd… You’re perfect in my opinion.”
Watch Copeland’s American Idol audition below: