17-Year-Old Morgan Gruber Dubbed a ‘Diamond in the Rough’ After Elle King Cover on ‘American Idol’

Longtime American Idol fan Morgan Gruber auditioned for the show in honor of her grandmother, who lost her five-year battle…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 21, 2022


7:42 pm

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Morgan Gruber; Photo by Eric McCanddless

Longtime American Idol fan Morgan Gruber auditioned for the show in honor of her grandmother, who lost her five-year battle with ovarian cancer two years ago.

“My Grandma just encouraged me to sing anywhere I could, but I was really too scared to,” Gruber explained to the Idol judges. ”My Grandma had ovarian cancer for five years. She was really sick, so, she just wanted me to sing for her before she passed away.”

Gruber said she was chasing her dream for her “guardian angel.”

“I know that she’s looking down on me,” the 17-year-old Pennsylvania native added. 

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A true country-loving girl, Gruber lives on 12-acres of land and declared, “I hunt, I fish and I love every day like Luke.”

“Yeah, I love this girl, congratulations, you get a yes,” Luke Bryan joked prior to her audition. 

Accompanied by a piano, Gruber then performed Elle King’s “Can’t Be Loved.”


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“We got to clap for the girl,” Bryan said as all three of the Idol judges gave Gruber a standing ovation following her audition. 

“That was amazing,” Katy Perry gushed. “I don’t really have many critiques for you.”

“Wow, well you know, this is why we do American Idol, because we find diamonds in the rough just like you,” Perry went on to say. 

Lionel Richie was equally impressed, telling her, “Let me tell you why I’m so pleased by this, you came in here and not only gave us fabulous delivery, but it’s your style. So, If I heard your voice singled from everybody else, I’d say Morgan, that’s what you want in this business.”


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“I looked at Katy’s sheet and it says Top 20, my sheet says Top 20. Your grandmother, as many grandmothers are, she was right on the money,” Bryan sweetly shared. 

Gruber was all smiles after racing feedback from the judges. 

“This means so much to me because I am so excited. If my grandma were here I know she would say ‘I’m so proud of you.’ She’s definitely smiling down on me right now,” Gruber said after earning a golden ticket to Hollywood.

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.