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American Idol 2021: The contestant who brought Lionel Richie to tears

BASKING RIDGE, New Jersey — One of the most memorable moments from week 3 of the ‘American Idol’ auditions came from 19-year-old Ronda Felton from Milwaukee.

Felton took the stage in tears – tears of joy, she told the judges.

“Growing up, it was definitely rough for my mom and I,” Felton said. “She was a single mom with no money even with her holding multiple jobs. We were homeless.”

She said music got her through it and singing with her mom, songs like “Zoom” by The Commodores. ‘Idol’ judge Lionel Richie was a member of the band from 1968 to 1982.

“Music made me realize things that I could be, things that I could achieve,” Felton said.

Her performance of “One Night Only” from the musical “Dreamgirls” moved the judges, but especially Richie.

Erika Perry prefers going by the name ‘E-T’ because she’s “extra-terrestrial” – out of this world!

Back on earth, right before the audition, Perry says her boyfriend dumped her!

“Because he said I have no drive and no motivation, so I’m here to prove him, all his friends and family, and all the haters in school growing up can’t always judge me for being eccentric and weird,” said the 26-year-old college student from Orange County, California.

The good news is she’s going to Hollywood.

Not so lucky was Tom McGovern of Allentown, New Jersey who hoped to earn a golden ticket with an”‘Idol Jingle” that he wrote.

Alanis Sophia, 19, WOWED the judges with her authentic performance of “Anyone” by Demi Lovato, singing with an “American Idol” toy microphone that her mom gave her while growing up.

“She always said I would be on the show and it’s always been a dream,” she said.

Alanis Sophia has been chasing that dream since she competed on “La Voz Kids” at age 11. Now, this Florida artist named after Alanis Morrisette is hoping to make that dream come true. She’s off to a strong start!

20-year-old Cecil Ray, a machine operator from Cameron, Texas, is also headed to Hollywood after his performance of Morgan Wallen’s “Talkin’ Tennessee.”

Luke Bryan called Cecil “absolute perfection” and Katy Perry compared him to a “country Justin Bieber.”

Cleveland’s Mary Jo Young, 19, shot at stardom began on Twitter and TikTok. Five million views later, she’s hoping to become the next “Idol” even though she says she’s never really performed in front of an audience before.

In fact, Mary Jo performed in front of her mom for the first time on “Idol!”

Congratulations to all the Golden Ticket winners! The auditions continue Sunday night, March 7 on ABC!

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