Sunday marked the first night of Hollywood Week on “American Idol,” and emotions ran high for contestants and judges alike.
Following a lengthy round of nationwide auditions, more than 100 “Idol” hopefuls were flown to Los Angeles for a rigorous showcase of two solo performances and one with a group, which will ultimately reduce the competition by half.
Many contestants were hindered by nerves and sickness – R&B crooner Nate Walker was even rushed to the hospital by ambulance for a lost voice and stomach pain at the end of the episode.
Emotionally, Dimitrius Graham, 27, might have had it roughest of all: When he walked out onstage, the Baltimore native revealed his sick mom, Lorraine, had called moments earlier to tell him that she was having surgery the next day.
“Her spirits were down and I’m in LA, so I can’t be there for her,” Graham said. “That’s my mom, that’s my best friend, that’s my rock. That’s my ‘American Idol.’ “
Graham asked the judges if he could FaceTime his mom before handing off his phone to Katy Perry.
“Hi, mama,” Perry said. “Lorraine, we believe with you for tomorrow that you’ll be safe and protected, and the angels are around you. Speaking of an angel, your son is about to sing for us and we want you to be a part of this moment.”
As Graham broke into Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” Perry buried her face in her hand and began to cry, and continued to sob throughout the performance.
“Woo!” she said to Lorraine afterward, wiping away tears with a tissue. “What’d you think about that?”
“Your boy did it, sweetheart,” Lionel Richie chimed in. “Your boy did it.”
You can find out if Graham makes it to the next round during Monday’s episode on ABC (8 EDT/PDT), which continues the second and last part of Hollywood Week.