Emmy Russell, granddaughter of Loretta Lynn, performed an impressive original song called “Skinny” at her American Idol audition last month. The judges had to encourage the 24-year-old Nashville singer-songwriter to speak up during her reticent first interview. Nevertheless, the attention of the judges was piqued when Russell brought up the fact that her grandma was a country singer. It was later revealed that this legendary Loretta Lynn was her grandmother.

Russell showcased a beautiful country-pop voice that was emotional and genuine, clearly inheriting a much of her grandma’s skill. She bolstered her performance with her nimble touch on the grand piano. Since its airing on February 25, 2024, the child singer’s audition has gone viral, with over 2.3 million views on the American Idol YouTube account.

It requires a great deal of bravery to sing about something as intimate as eating disorders in an audition performance, but that’s exactly what “Skinny” does. While addressing the judges, Russell shared some background on her musical history, stating, “Growing up I sang music my entire life. I simply adore composing music and writing. She went on to say that she and her grandmother used to sing “on the road” when she was younger, but that they hadn’t done any live performance since then.

“Emmy, you’re an A+ songwriter — so was your grandma,” judge Katy Perry stated after listening to “Skinny.” You’re quite talented. You are not your grandma at all, and I don’t think it’s healthy to compare yourself to her. Stop putting too much strain on yourself.Russell had previously gained widespread notice. When she and Willie Nelson’s son Lukas Nelson sang “Lay Me Down” at Loretta Lynn’s A Celebration of Her Life and Music in 2022, it was a breathtaking performance.

Perry had Russell reintroduce herself after receiving her criticism; this time, she was instructed to be more forceful. Until Russell became louder and more forceful, she informed her, she would not hear her. “My darling, you have promise, and I like your promise,” Lionel Richie added next. Every single one of us is fighting an uphill struggle. You are walking in very large shoes. That shoe size is clearly not yours; now all I have to do is convince you to return it to the closet.

Luke Bryan, a country music artist, concurred, adding, “We’ve just got to lift you up and get you more confident, and you just need to own it.” Richie and Bryan were the only judges to vote yes on Russell’s audition.

After young vocalist Russell introduced herself again—a moment that Perry used to drag out—the moment brought tears to her eyes, but she managed to get through it. Perry then informed her that she had gotten three affirmative votes during her audition and that she was heading to Hollywood after that. The judges were spot-on; the competition features plenty of talented vocalists, but when a young artist can also move an audience with their lyrics, it’s clear they have future star power.

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