Cecil Ray Auditions For ‘American Idol’ with Morgan Wallen Song, Earns His Way To Hollywood With Three-Way ‘Yes’

Meet Cecil Ray, a 20-year-old machine operator from Cameron, Texas, who wowed the American Idol judges with his performance of…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

February 28, 2021


7:43 pm

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Cecil Ray; ABC/Christopher Willard

Meet Cecil Ray, a 20-year-old machine operator from Cameron, Texas, who wowed the American Idol judges with his performance of Morgan Wallen’s “Talkin’ Tennessee.”

The father of one earned a ticket to Hollywood and received impeccable feedback from the judges, including country superstar Luke Bryan.   

“I think you are absolute perfection,” Bryan told him. “Listen, you are what we’re about here at American Idol.” 

After critiquing his performance and the way he seemed to have “ants in his pants,” Bryan offered Cecil the compliment of a lifetime. 

“Your voice really distinctive and interesting and really good enough to potentially do really well in this competition,” Bryan shared. “We always want this male, country kid slot and you may be the best we’ve seen this year potentially in that slot, in my opinion.”

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Katy Perry compared Cecil to a “country Justin Bieber” and gave him advice to “ground himself” before performing. 

Lionel Richie had nothing but good things to say as well. 

“Cecil, sometimes in your career, people can see your potential, before you can see your potential,” he said. “You have no idea in your rawness, what it is that you have.”  

Click above to watch Cecil Ray perform Morgan Wallen’s “Talkin’ Tennessee.” 

American Idol returns on Sunday (March 7) at 8/7c. 

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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.