WATCH: Elijah McCormick’s Rascal Flatts Cover Brings Lionel Richie To Tears On ‘American Idol’
In 2019, McCormick was involved in a tragic accident that nearly took his life. Now, he sings with a purpose.
American Idol auditions are underway and Idol hopeful Elijah McCormick left a lasting impression on the judges with his emotional rendition of a Rascal Flatts hit.
McCormick, who hails from Raeford, North Carolina, has been singing since he was about 6 years old but said that he truly fell in love with music when he was in high school. Unfortunately, that’s also the time he faced a life-changing event that nearly took his life.
Prior to his performance, the 21-year-old recalled a tragic car accident that left him severely injured.
“On graduation day 2019, I was in a bad car accident. The car caught on fire. I had to learn how to walk and talk again,” he explained.
The contestant’s mother, Teshauana, who also attended his audition, shared, “I got a phone call. I thought it was just a fender bender. But when I got there, it was terrifying.”
He was airlifted to the hospital and flatlined multiple times on the way. Following the accident, McCormick faced a long recovery that included 79 days in the hospital, and numerous surgeries.
“I really don’t know where I’d be if he hadn’t made it,” his mom tearfully added.
When he awoke, his first question was, “Mama, can I still sing?”
Eventually, Elijah McCormick found his voice again and made the decision to make music his purpose in life.
For his audition, McCormick chose to sing Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road.” His vocals thoroughly impressed Idol judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie and left Richie in tears.
“Got me, boy,” Richie said as tears streamed down his face.
The judges then made their way across the room to offer McCormick hugs.
While seated back at the judges’ table, they each took a moment to comment on his audition.
“I just got to say it. I mean. The last person I saw approach singing like you was Willie Spence,” Bryan said, referring to the late Season 19 finalist.
Richie agreed, adding, “It’s the same approach.”
“I mean, you hit one of those notes, and I thought of Willie, and from then on, I couldn’t recover,” the “Stuck On You” singer admitted. “I was trying to look very dignified, and then you just beat me up some more. But let me tell you this. God brought you back nine times for you to do something amazing. I’m so glad you’re here with us. That was just one of those moments in my life that I’ll never forget.”
The singer then revealed that his mother signed him up for American Idol prior to his accident.
“I had my ID number and everything,” he told the superstar judges.
“You are just here fulfilling your destiny. This was always meant to be,” Perry declared.
After bringing in his mother at the request of the judges, McCormick’s fate on Idol was revealed.
“Your son, when he opens his mouth, he’s divine. God brought him back for a purpose in life, and it starts right here. I know you went through absolute torture. Well, God bless you, and your family, and that golden child right there,” Richie told her.
“The golden child deserves the golden ticket,” Perry added as all three judges voted “yes.”
After the judges’ decision was revealed McCormick and his mother shared a hug.
American Idol airs every Sunday at 8/7c on ABC.