C.J. Harris is the Salt Lake City contestant who dedicated his performance to his father, who died a year earlier of a massive heart attack.
He played a guitar-accompanied version of The Allman Brothers “Soul Shine.”
And while the American Idol judges agreed it wasn’t perfect, they also unanimously agreed that C.J. deserved a golden ticket to Hollywood.
Keith Urban praised him for his believability.
And the toughest of Idol’s judges, Harry Connick Jr., complimented C.J. on his pleasant vibe and for holding his attention through his entire performance.
C.J. is a 22-year-old guitar teacher from Jasper, Alabama.
And what we didn’t see is that the guitar teacher ran into a bit of a jam when the Idol bus tour stopped in Tuscaloosa; he broke his guitar string, of all things, while practicing as he waited in line.
Fellow contestant Dexter Roberts came to the rescue, letting C.J. borrow his Gibson guitar.
While he dedicated his Idol song to his dad, C.J. says in his Road to Hollywood video that he auditioned in hopes of providing a better life for his family, including a young son.
As for the judges’ critiques, C.J. says he knows there are areas where he can improve, “but I’m excited for the position I’m in.”
C.J. has a long list of musical influences including Darius Rocker, Keith Urban, The Allman Brothers, Bill Withers and the Marshall Tucker Band.
He says the fact that he’s a black country artist makes him unique and “gives some of the guys in my city the chance to look up to somebody.”
If you’d like to follow C.J., here’s a link to his Facebook page.
I’ve embedded some of his performances below. You can find more on his YouTube channel.
While he has a clear preference for country music, you’ll also find covers there of “Whipping Post” and Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.”
For profiles of more than 90 other Season 13 contestants, head here.
“Saving Amy” (Brantley Gilbert cover)
“Wanted” (Hunter Hayes cover)
“You” (an original)
“I’ll Be OK” (an original)