Caroline Kole, Who Has Toured With Reba McEntire, Turns Heads With ‘American Idol’ Audition

Kole has been chasing her dreams in Nashville for 10 years.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

February 26, 2023


7:55 pm

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Caroline Kole; Photo by ABC, American Idol

Caroline Kole has been in Nashville for 10 years and has been waiting for a big break since moving to Music City. That moment just might come during the 21st season of American Idol

Kole, whose first concert was a Kelly Clarkson show, has been watching Idol for as long as she can remember and she took her chance at a golden ticket while performing Katy Perry’s “Firework.” 


YouTube video

While strumming an acoustic guitar, Kole impressed the judges with her performance and even had Perry singing along.  

“Don’t sing it better than me girl,” Perry joked. “If someone can hit that note… they win!”

Perry joined her for an impromptu duet from the judges’ panel. 

“That’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened in my entire life. Even if this stops right now, it’s okay,” Kole admitted.

Luke Bryan took Perry’s singing as a good sign.  

“Listen, we’ve been doing this for six years and she’s never done that to one of her songs. So that means she’s grooving,” he explained. 

“That’s exactly right,” Lionel Richie chimed in.

Perry admitted she was in fact “grooving” and went on to applaud Kole’s range. 

Caroline Kole; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Caroline Kole; Photo by ABC, American Idol

“Look, I was worried because you hit the falsetto note right before the pay-off and I was like if this girl does not give me the pay-off it’s going to be a lot of almosts in her life, but you paid it off,” she said. 

“You did it!’ Richie shouted.

Bryan continued to compliment Kole’s delivery. “You know I think you’ve got all the tools there. I think you’re missing the mark on some of the delivery. Don’t feel like you have to be safe and proper in your delivery and just sing. You’ve got the range and the ability.” 

“Anyone that can sing that note before 7 PM is good in my book,” Perry pointed out, while Richie added, “I love your smokiness. That smokiness thing that you have… the grits.” 

The judges believe Kole, who currently works as a social media manager, has previously shared the stage with artists such as Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton, has a bright future ahead of her. 

“I personally think you could be top twenty-something… Maybe top 24?” Perry stated. 

“Did you hear that?” Richie asked.  

“But it’s going to be up to you after 24. You’re going to have to get some fangs out girl.” Perry advised. 

“We’re in the business, just sell your wonderful personality as well as those smoky notes,” Richie continued. 

When it was time to vote, Kole earned a “yes” from all three judges and ultimately earned a golden ticket to Hollywood. 

“Remember that line in ‘Firework’ about all the doors are closed to lead you to a perfect road? Welcome to American Idol. You’re on the perfect road. You got this girl.” Perry told her. 

After earning the golden ticket, Caroline Kole excitedly shared, “This is so cool! It’s a lot of almosts and I feel like I got another chance. 

Caroline Kole originally hails from Tampa, Florida. She signed a publishing deal with Sony ATV when she was just 14 years old. Later, Kole signed with Starstruck Records and released a debut EP.  

She spent quite a bit of time opening for Reba. In a 2014 interview with Sounds Like Nashville, Kole listed Reba McEntire, Sheryl Crow, Pat Benatar, and Dierks Bentley as some of her musical influences. 

American Idol airs Sundays at 8/7c on ABC.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

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 and her work being featured on 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.