WATCH: 21-Year-Old Kaeyra Stuns With Unexpected Chris Stapleton Cover On ‘American Idol’

Kaeyra’s audition earned a standing ovation from Luke Bryan.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 26, 2023


10:02 am

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Kaeyra; Photo by American Idol, ABC

Kaeyra, a singer/songwriter from Algonquin, Illinois, delivered a mesmerizing performance of Chris Stapleton’s “Cold” during her American Idol audition.

Idol released the clip ahead of Sunday’s (March 26) episode, which serves as the final round of auditions before the Hollywood episodes begin to air next week. 

Seated behind a white grand piano, Kaeyra’s performance stunned the American Idol judges with her soaring sultry vocals.

Kaeyra; Photo by American Idol, ABC
Kaeyra; Photo by American Idol, ABC

At the conclusion of her performance, Idol judge Luke Bryan hopped out of his chair to give Kaeyra a standing ovation while fellow judges, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, applauded from their seats.  

“I wasn’t expecting that!” Luke Bryan admitted, before praising the contestant’s vocal abilities. “You don’t sound like anybody else. You can tell you’ve sat at the piano and you can just tell that music’s been in your world. It was great, it was really great.”

With hopes to learn more about the contestant, Perry questioned, “Tell me, Kaeyra, where do you usually sing?” 

“I work at a restaurant. I sing four hours a night, four days a week,” Kaeyra revealed. 

She went on to explain that she can only sing covers while singing at her place of employment.

“If you get to go to Hollywood, I want to hear something less slow because you have this vibrato that’s really cool,” Perry told her. “All the world is not a steakhouse.” 

Richie was equally impressed. 

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“All we’re talking about is range. If we can get some of that moody voice you have and put it across a fast song, mid-tempo song, slow song,” he said. “You’ve got all the range you need to make an artist out of this.”

Perry agreed and added, “I think you are an artist [and] I think it’s in your blood and I think that the universe has put you in the right places for this moment.” 

Before the judges revealed Kaeyra’s fate in the competition, Richie said, “I have to agree with Katy. You know what, it’s in your blood and then I think what we want to do now is bring it all out and it’s time to show it off.” 

Ultimately, Kaeyra earned three ‘yeses’ and a golden ticket to advance to Hollywood.

While she didn’t appear to be nervous during her Idol audition, she told ABC 7 Chicago that she felt anxious when stepping in front of the superstar judges for the first time. 

“Standing in front of judges you’ve admired and listened to your whole life, it’s nerve-wracking,” she admitted. “And also being around all the contestants, it’s more inspiring than anything.”

Kaeyra’s real name is Caroline Baran. In 2018, she auditioned for America’s Got Talent with a cover of Hozier’s debut single, “Take Me To Church.” Her standout performance earned a “yes” from all of the judges. 

During a recent interview with ABC 7 Chicago, Kaeyra opened up about her time in the bands Profusion and Caroline & The Priority. 

“I was in a band when I was 12, I played bass and sang. I just remember the first time I was on stage and I was, ‘Yup, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.’ So, no matter what happens, I know that this is the only way. It’s always going to be music.”

The 21-year-old singer previously went viral with impressive covers on Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox YouTube channel. Her covers of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” and more on the channel have amassed millions of views over the course of the last few years.

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American Idol airs every Sunday 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.