Harper Grace after delivering a disastrous rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at age 11 redeemed herself on Sunday’s premiere episode of American Idol on ABC.
The Texas girl was a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons thanks to her off-key performance of the national anthem at a Major League Soccer game back in 2012.
Harper, who sang the anthem while performing as Harper Gruzins, wowed the American Idol judges with her vocals and songwriting skills.
Redemption center: Harper Grace redeemed herself after botching the national anthem in 2012 during her audition shown on Sunday during the premiere of American Idol on ABC
Before her audition, viewers were treated to a reminder of when 11-year-old Harper performed a shocking rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner ahead of a game between FC Dallas home game against the Los Angeles Galaxy in July 2012.
She told host Ryan Seacrest: ‘If you search ”the worst national anthem” mine is the very first that ever pops up, next to Christina Aguilera and Roseanne Barr. At least my name’s out there.’
Harper, now 16, did not give up on her wish to be a singing sensation and showed the Idol judges her ‘dream board’ – where she wrote down her plan to audition for the show one day.
After hearing Harper perform both an original song and Young Dumb & Broke by Khalid, Luke Bryan told the high school student she had a ‘great voice’ and Lionel Richie agreed.
Off key: The Texas girl was age 11 when she performed an off-key rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner
Worst ever: The warbling, off-key rendition of the national anthem went viral
Nailed it: Harper performed both an original song and Young Dumb & Broke by Khalid
Katy Perry, 33, said: ‘I don’t think your voice has seen its ultimate potential, but I think you’re a dream for Hollywood to be able to carve out.’
The trio sent Harper through to the next round of auditions with a unanimous vote and Katy wrote ‘going to Hollywood’ on her dream board.
Harper, from McKinley, Texas, said: ‘I really do feel like I redeemed myself from that awful performance.’
Hollywood bound: Katy Perry told Harper that her voice has yet to reach its full potential
Dream board: The pop star updated Harper’s dream board with her going to Hollywood
The two-hour American Idol premiere opened with a familiar voice-over from the show’s 2005 winner Carrie Underwood.
She said: ‘The adventure begins to uncover the finest talent this nation has to offer. The journey will take us to every corner of this country, with no voice left unheard.
‘From the dreamers to the lullaby singers. They are the fabric of America and they could be stars in the making. I should know because it happened to me.’
New network: Ryan Seacrest was back as host along with new judges Lionel Richie, Katy and Luke Bryan
Ryan, 43, declared: ‘We’re back. I’ve waited a lifetime for this,’ despite the show having been off television for just two years.
While Lionel, 68, discussed his excitement over his new judging gig, Luke described the panel as ‘three peas in a pod’ and Katy said she intended to be ‘a straight shooter’.
The first aspiring pop star to step in front of ABC’s new-look Idol panel was Catie Turner, a 17-year-old high school student from Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
The judges: Lionel, Katy and Luke represent soul, pop and country music
The quirky singer told producers she had ‘already hurled’ and admitted she was starting to sweat before sniffing her own armpit.
Despite her attack of nerves, the teenager won over the judges with her original song 21st Century Machine and received a trio of yes votes.
Luke, 41, told her: ‘You are interesting and brilliant beyond your years’.
Talented teen: Catie Turner, 17, performed an original song and got a ticket to Hollywood
Getting emotional: The teenager got emotional as the judges praised her performance
Lionel added: ‘Every once in a while, a Martian lands’.
Maddie Poppe, 19, and Layla Spring, 16, received tickets to Hollywood after solid performances, as did 21-year-old Ron Bultongez whose family emigrated to America from the Congo when he was 10-years-old.
Luke described his rendition of James Bay’s Let It Go as ‘pretty god damn inspiring’, but Lionel and Katy were unsure about his ability and sent him home.
Adorable moment: Layla Spring, 16, brought her little sister Dixie onto the stage with her
Proud sister: Dixie was proud of Layla after she gained a ticket to Hollywood
Tough call: Ron Bultongez divided the judging panel
Out voted: Luke fully endorsed Ron, but Lionel and Katy didn’t vote to send him to Hollywood
Hour later: Lionel an hour later had a change of heart and Ron was brought back
An hour later, however, Lionel did an about-turn and changed his no to a yes, meaning Ron progressed to the next round of auditions.
While 19-year-old Benjamin Glaze failed to impress the judges with his vocals, he did manage to get his first ever kiss from Katy.
After hearing that the Oklahoma-born cashier had never kissed a girl before, Katy beckoned him over to the judges’ table.
Next round: Ron beamed as Lionel informed him about his change of mind sending him to the next round
As Benjamin went to plant a kiss on her cheek, the Firework singer spun her face around and smooched him on the lips, sending him tumbling to the floor in shock.
She later told him: ‘I really enjoyed meeting you today. You gave my heart a flutter. I think you’re really sweet. Truthfully, there are just some people that are out-singing you right now.’
Musical theater actress Koby did not take her rejection so well, after Katy told her ‘You’re not a pop star’ and the judges sent her home.
First kiss: Benjamin Glaze failed to advance but got his first kiss from Katy Perry
She told producers: ‘I thought this was a singing competition and I thought I sang really f***ing well. I’m sorry, I’m really good. I don’t know what happened.
‘I can take it down dumba***. I think Katy’s just a little jealous. I guess they want mediocre singers.’
Rocker Nico Bones and Russian born Sardor Milano left the judges speechless following their bizarre auditions and failed to progress, but there was greater success for Alyssa Raghu and Dennis Lorenzo.
Colorado singer: Koby belted out her audition but the judges were not imprssed
Good effort: Rock singer Nico Bones and Russian born Sardor Milano also failed to advance
After 15-year-old Alyssa performed Almost Is Never Enough by Ariana Grande and Nathan Sykes, Katy told her the hair on her legs was standing on end.
‘I will have to go and shave my legs now. They just grew an inch and a half because I full body felt what you were singing,’ she said.
Dennis, meanwhile, wowed the judges with his version of Unaware by Allen Stone, while playing a battered guitar bought for him by his grandparents when he was 16-years-old.
Nailed it: Alyssa Raghu took on Ariana Grande song and got a ticket to Hollywood
Tears flowing: The florida student cried tears of joy as she advanced
Real deal: Dennis played a battered guitar with a hole in it while wowing the judges and getting a ticket to Hollywood
Luke told him: ‘Your deal is why I signed up for this.’
The most pleasantly surprising performances came from 18-year-old nursing student Noah Davis and 16-year-old schoolboy Zach D’Onofrio.
Noah left the judges open-mouthed when he said he would buy a herd of alpaca if he were to be crowned the American Idol champion.
Alpaca fan: Noah Davis said he would buy a herd of alpaca if he won
Farm life: The Arkansas native left the judges open-mouthed when he told his alpaca story
‘An alpaca chased me around a friend of mine’s backyard and I was done with the alpacas. It scared me to death,’ Lionel told him.
But the Hello singer changed his tune after Noah belted out Stay by Rihanna and received a ticket to Hollywood – and hugs – from all three judges.
‘If you want an alpaca, you can have an alpaca,’ he said.
Piano man: Noah played the piano while singing Stay by Rihanna
Zach, meanwhile, told viewers he was constantly teased about his high-pitched voice before performing a much deeper version of The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra.
The schoolboy, from Wesley Chapel in Florida, gifted the judges socks before his performance and slow-danced with Katy during his audition.
The judges gave him a unanimous yes and Luke commented: ‘Harry Potter walks in and slays it.’
American Idol continues on Monday on ABC.
Dance time: Katy danced with Zach as he sang The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra
Smooth moves: The pop star gently swayed as Zach auditioned