SU alumnus Jay Copeland competed Sunday for a spot in the “American Idol” Top 11 before reaching the Top 10 in Monday night's episode.
Copeland chose “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars for his breakout performance.
“In order for me to connect to the song, I always try to find something…my mom really is an amazing woman," Copeland said. "She raised me single-handedly; she deserves this song."
The crowd and judges erupted with applause after the heartfelt performance.
“For the first time, you’re actually showing up on the stage singing songs that you should be singing," Lionel Richie said. "This is who you are…the closest thing to your artistry…I love what you did."
Nationwide audiences voted contestants into the Top 11, Copeland making the cut.
Monday’s episode, the judges individually picked a song for each contestant to choose from, without knowing which song was chosen by which judge.
Jay closed the show out with a performance of “Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley, previously unfamiliar to the competitor.
“Maybe I should do something that’s more vulnerable," Copeland said. "I really want to show America that I’m a versatile artist, that I’m flexible with music.”
Copeland's performance received high praise from the judges.
“That was your best performance yet, in my opinion…it was controlled, it was so beautiful..it was you," Katy Perry said. “Everyone was so zoned into you Jay, you did it.”
Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie also gave compliments.
Richie said Copeland’s performance was one of the greatest he had ever seen.
“It was like Nat King Cole reborn in front of my eyes…I mean we don’t have enough time for me to tell you how great you just did, it was amazing,” Bryan said.
Audiences agreed, landing Copeland in the Top 10 with 19 million live votes.
Watch Copeland’s breakout performance of “Just The Way You Are” here.
Watch Monday night’s performance of “Lilac Wine” here.
By HALEY RAWLS
Featured image courtesy of Jay Copeland's Instagram