American Idol returned on Sunday (March 8) with a slew of new contestants vying for their chance to win a golden ticket to Hollywood. And, 18-year-old Zack Dobbins of Clay, West Virginia, was one of them.
The young country singer, who drove his muddy 1993 Ford F-150, named Loretta, to the audition, used his moment to turn out an impressive rendition of his original song called “Misuse.” Before launching into his tune, he received some assistance from Luke Bryan.
Bryan, who seemed delighted by Dobbins’ charm and endearingly humble attitude, withdrew from his seat to help the aspiring star tune his guitar. The minor hiccup didn’t throw Dobbins off from his performance. In fact, he showed off his gritty vocals with every lyric, despite having very little vocal training.
“Do you know the term vibrato?” Bryan asked Dobbins after the performance before giving the singer his approval for Hollywood. “We’re going to teach you a little bit about singing along the way. I don’t want to change you!”
Katy Perry then followed up Bryan’s comments by calling Dobbins “authentic.”
Lionel Richie, meanwhile, beamed, “I’m so fascinated! There’s something very special here. You’re giving us heart and soul and realness. You just stay being like you.”
In a pre-taped segment of the show, Dobbins told viewers that his father and grandfather introduced him to music. He also admitted that he has never flown on an airplane before – something he has in common with 2005’s American Idol champion Carrie Underwood when she auditioned for the show.
“I didn’t know what this [competition] was for,” Dobbins told host Ryan Seacrest regarding his knowledge of the reality competition series. “I thought it was for a plaque or something at the end. I was very confused.”
“If I got big and famous, I’m going to have a single-wide trailer on an acre land,” he continued. “I’d still have the same truck. It would just run a little better.”
Check out Dobbins’ American Idol audition in the clip above.