Warren Peay and Marybeth Byrd returned to American Idol during the Season 21 finale to share the stage with country star Lainey Wilson.
As the opening notes began, Wilson takes the lead on her chart-topping hit, “Heart Like A Truck,” before being joined on stage first by Byrd and then by Peay. Motion graphics of wild horses were seen moving through the rearview mirror that appeared on the screens behind the singers as they illustrated the empowering narrative through their staggering harmonies.
The female powerhouses traded off singing the chorus in their dazzling ensembles before Peay incorporated his own traditional country music stylings. They came together to hold the final note in an impressive run of strong vocals that evoked a roar of applause from the audience.
“I got a heart like a truck / It’s been drug through the mud / Runs on dreams and gasoline / And that ole highway holds the key / It’s got a lead foot down when it’s leaving / Lord knows it’s taken a hell of a beating / A little bit of love is all that it’s needing / But it’s good as it is tough / I got a heart like a truck,” they delivered in the fan-favorite track.
This performance follows Wilson’s first appearance on the final episode of the season, which included an impressive duet with fellow country hitmaker, Jelly Roll.
Peay, a 24-year-old from Bamberg, South Carolina, instantly stood out to Idol judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie with his audition of “To The Table” by Zach Williams. While the judges were quick to point out his similarities to country star Chris Stapleton, Peay continued to stand out and prove his outstanding artistry throughout the competition.
For his Top 8 performance, the former appliance repair man delivered a cover of Alanis Morissette ‘s “All I Really Want” in front of the iconic artist herself. Unfortunately, he was eliminated before making it to the Top 5.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Marybeth Byrd stood out in her audition with a cover of The SteelDrivers’ “If It Hadn’t Been For Love.” The small-town Arkansas radio host also made it far in the competition as she claimed the last spot in the Top 10 following her performance of Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”
Aside from her experience on Idol, Byrd has also previously competed on Season 17 of NBC’s The Voice, where she made the Top 8 semifinals on Team John Legend.
Live from Hollywood, the three-hour Season 21 finale of American Idol also featured performances from the Idol judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, as well as the top 3 finalists: Megan Danielle, Colin Stough, and Iam Tongi.
Additionally, Ellie Goulding, Jelly Roll, Pitbull, TLC, Lil Jon, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson and Lauren Daigle also performed throughout the broadcast.
American Idol alums Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken also returned to the show.
Country superstar Keith Urban, who served as an American Idol judge during seasons 12 to 15, was on hand to mentor to the top 3.
“To be able to come in as a mentor, and play as well, is incredible,” he told PEOPLE. “That was home for me for several seasons, and the mentoring part is probably one of the things I always enjoyed the most, getting to work with the artist one-on-one.”
During the show, several other fan-favorite contestants returned to the American Idol stage, including Haven Madison, Olive Steele, Wé Ani, Zachariah Smith, Warren Peay, and more.
Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the American Idol season 21 finale aired on Sunday, May 21 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT.