A Song For Her Grandpa: Kylie Frey Earns Standing Ovation With Emotional ‘America’s Got Talent’ Audition

The rising country singer/songwriter left it all on the stage.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

July 31, 2023


7:24 am

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Kylie Frey; Photo Courtesy America’s Got Talent

Kylie Frey brought her soulful-country twang and heartfelt songwriting to the America’s Got Talent stage with her original song, “Horses in Heaven.”

As she stood on stage wearing her long white ensemble, braided pigtails under her traditional cowboy hat and bare feet, the rodeo queen turned country singer was prompted to share a bit about her background. Kylie Frey then revealed that growing up in a big rodeo family, her love for singing led her to deliver the National Anthem at many rodeos, including the NFR (National Finals Rodeo). Now that she made her way to the America’s Got Talent stage, Frey is showcasing her talent to a whole new audience. 

Before her performance, the 28-year-old admitted to the panel of judges that she was “very nervous.” However, the jitters seemed to quickly escape Frey as soon as her bandmates stepped on stage to help her deliver the song that she penned alongside Stone Aielli. 

A Tribute To Her Grandfather

Kylie Frey; Photo Courtesy America's Got Talent
Kylie Frey; Photo Courtesy America’s Got Talent

Frey went on to explain the inspiration behind the sentimental tune before letting the magical tune speak for itself. 

“So I wrote this song for my grandpa. He always told me, if I sing the National Anthem for every rodeo that I showed up to, one day, someone would ask me to sing the National Anthem at the NFR, which is the Super Bowl of rodeo. That’s how I was gonna get my start because that’s how Reba did and that’s how I was gonna do it too.”

From the first strum of her guitar, the audience was silent, but as soon as her twang-filled vocals belted out on the chorus, a round of applause erupted. Frey’s connection to the song helped bring it to new heights as she gave her whole heart to the delicate tune that pays tribute to her late grandfather, who she predicts is riding “Horses in Heaven.”

“I don’t know if he’s rounding up a herd of cattle / Or going for eight in his old bronc saddle / Or teaching a young buck a hard-learned well-earned lesson / I don’t know if he’s roaming around just to pass the time / Somewhere up there on the other side / Checking a fence line just as the sun is setting / But y’all I’m sure, that he’s riding horses in heaven,” Frey delivered on the chorus.


YouTube video

The video of her audition was shared to social media, prompting viewers to tune into NBC on Tuesday night to see if she landed enough votes to make it through to the next round. 

Frey took to the comment section to write, “It was so special to get to play this on the America’s Got Talent stage!”

Kylie Frey recently dropped a newly recorded version of her original song with the inclusion of chart-topper Randy Houser. This powerful collaboration came as a result of their chance meeting at last year’s NFR in Arlington, TX, where Frey fulfilled the dream inspired by her grandfather and performed the National Anthem 

“My grandpa and I shared a lifelong dream that I would one day sing the national anthem at the NFR,’ Frey in a previous press release. “I was supposed to sing the anthem on a different night, but they called me a week later and said that they needed to move me to a different night, but they didn’t know who else would be performing yet. Well, on the night I showed up, I found out it was Randy performing and he opened the night with Johnny Cash’s ‘Old Rugged Flag.’”

Version Featuring Randy Houser

YouTube video

She went on to share the chill-enduing correlation between this Cash classic and her grandfather. 

“’Old Rugged Flag’ was my grandpa’s favorite rodeo opener, and he would get mad at my aunt if she did not start her rodeos with Cash’s ‘Old Rugged Flag,’” she continued. “Isn’t that crazy?! I believe that was a sign from my grandpa that this was all exactly as it was meant to be.”

“I was driving around Dallas with a couple of buddies, and one of them played Kylie’s music,” Houser added. “When I heard ‘Horses In Heaven,’ it got to me. I felt like it was telling a story I knew. Right then, I wanted sing on the track.”

The song was added to Texas radio on March 31 and quickly became Frey’s highest debut yet on the Texas Regional Radio Report chart.

The collaboration between Frey and Houser was followed by a slew of new releases including “Hell of a Life,” “Black & White World” and “Red Dirt Cinderella.”

On Tour

Throughout the summer, Kylie Frey has appeared at headlining shows and festivals across the US and Mexico.

In October, she and Tyler Halverson will continue their Your Bar Now Tour with dates in Colorado and Wyoming. 

For a full list of upcoming tour dates, visit Kylie Frey’s official website.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.