When an American Idol contestant took the stage with a performance of an original song, Idol judge and country hitmaker Luke Bryan declared: “When you start singing, it just sounds like the dad-gum country radio. It’s a real serious dad-gum.”
Hunter Wolkonowski, who goes by Huntergirl, performed “Heartbreak Down” on American Idol. The 23-year-old from Tennessee has impressed the celebrity judge panel — Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie — since her first audition when she covered Rascal Flatts’ “Riot.” Huntergirl explained at that time that she works with veterans in music therapy, listening to their war stories and turning them into songs as a therapeutic way to help them cope with PTSD. Perry hailed Huntergirl’s work with veterans “profound” after her latest performance.
“You are an artist,” Perry said. “I put my money on you, girl.”
The praise was unanimous among the three celebrity judges. Richie hailed Huntergirl a “natural.” Bryan added: “You just have that magic sound and then write the songs to back it up. (The) sky is the limit, I see your future, thank you for getting up here and playing a great original.”
Huntergirl, compared to Miranda Lambert during her first audition, also made history this season as the first recipient of the platinum ticket. Only three platinum tickets can be given out — with a unanimous vote from the judges — to allow the contestant to bypass the first round of Hollywood week. Host Ryan Seacrest previously referred to it as a “game changer.”
Watch Huntergirl’s latest performance here: